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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2021)

Turquoise waters of Diablo Lake

It’s interesting that I’ve lived in the state of Washington now for 9 months and haven’t wrote about any of my experiences until now. So I guess I’ll start with my most recent Washington adventure and backtrack (eventually).

Thunderknob trail

Video overview of our trip thanks to Zach Sweeting :

The North Cascades National Park has intrigued me for a while. A lot of Washington natives don’t even realize it’s a National Park when I bring it up in conversation. It is on a list of the 10 LEAST visited National Parks of the 59 in the United States. WHAT?

The Crew

So, five of us piled into my boyfriend’s jeep and we drove out of Seattle with relief, and made the less than 3 hour drive to our Newhalem Campground site. I reserved Newhalem instead of Colonial Creek Campground because they still had walk in sites available on the river. Colonial Creek definitely seems to fill up faster because it is closer to Diablo Lake and the most popular hikes. I would camp in the Newhalem campground again in a heartbeat. It was private and had a bathhouse nearby where you park your car. It felt like we had backpacked in.

Set up camp. Build fire on soggy ground (because Washington). Roast hot dogs. Drink Rainier. Roast marshmallows. Pass out.

Morning 1:

After a relaxed breakfast, we drove to the Visitor’s Center to inquire about trails that still had snow cover and any and all advice.

On our way to Thunder Knob trailhead, we stopped off at Ladder Creek Falls, which was a great start to the day and our first look at the turquoise glacier water.

Ladder Falls Suspension Bridge

  • Ladder Creek Falls: 0.4 miles over a suspension bridge with some stairs to see the falls. View of a power house and some of the history of hydroelectric power in the area. This took us about 30 minutes.

We then drove to Colonial Creek Campground to access our next hike

Diablo Lake

  • Thunder Knob Trail: 3.6 miles of relatively easy hiking with some elevation gain. This hike gave us the best views of Diablo Lake and the stunning turquoise waters. We chose to hang out at the viewpoint and eat lunch here.

Then we drove over the breathtaking Diablo Dam to get to our last hike of the day.

  • Diablo Lake Trail: 7.6 miles of moderate hiking. This trail offered a variety of terrain changes and stunning views of the rivers and mountain ridges, ending at a suspension bridge and view of the Ross Dam. You are able to take a ferry back instead of hiking back if you plan this hike well. We somehow nailed the timing for one of the two departure times, however, they do NOT accept anything but cash. The kicker – there are no ATMs or Cash back within a 30 minute drive. Us, being the young, tech-forward Seattlites, had not one coin or bill. The 7.6 miles round trip was pretty brutal after already putting in some miles, but still worth it in my opinion. We finished the hike exhausted and sweaty and broke open some refreshments on the beach next to the trailhead parking lot.

  • Gorge Overlook: On our way back to the campsite, we briefly stopped off here to grab some gorgeous views.

Build fire on soggy ground (because Washington). Roast hot dogs. Roast marshmallows. Drink Rainier. Pass out.

Morning 2: After breakfast and packing everything back into the car, we drove out for one more nearby hike

Pyramid Lake

  • Pyramid Lake Trail: 4.5 miles of moderate elevation gain. All reviews of this trail say that this trail is about the journey and not the destination, but I beg to differ. Once you enter the lake, turn left and hike up a rock scramble to some large rocks and look over the dark teal lake to a beautiful mountain ridge.

Pyramid Lake

On our way home we stopped at Marblemount Diner. Maybe it was because we lived off of hot dogs for a few days, but darn, that was a good meal.

Can’t wait to go back and check out Sourdough Mountain Tail once the snow has cleared.


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