Visiting North Cascades National Park

In July, Drew and I had the opportunity to visit North Cascades National Park. On our drive from Seattle to Vancouver, we ventured out of our way to see North Cascades National Park. While Diablo Lake is beautiful, we were disappointed with our overall experience and felt it was our least favorite National Park that we have visited so far.

To be fair, Drew and I only had a day to explore the park and the trail we picked left much to be desired. If we visited again, we would definitely explore other parts of the park and maybe that would help improve our impression of the park.

We arrived to the park early in the morning and went straight to the Diablo Lake trailhead. The Diablo Lake trail is 7.5 miles roundtrip from the parking lot, but you also have the option to take a ferry back for a $10/per person fee. Initially we had planned to hike in and back out, but since the trail was so disappointing, we elected to take the ferry back. We parked in the parking lot and were surprised to see cell phone towers and power lines strewn across the lake and throughout the park.

Diablo Lake Trailhead North Cascades National Park

The Diablo Lake trail started out in the shade and then eventually ran parallel to Diablo Lake. However, you are unable to see the lake for 95% of the hike–there is a brief moment when you’re cliff-side with a decent overlook, but still not the best view of the lake.

The trail finishes with a sharp decline and ends at Ross Dam. About a quarter mile from the dam there is a small dock where a ferry departs twice a day to take you back to the main parking lot. We elected to spend some time relaxing on the dock before taking the ferry back to the parking lot.



We should have done more research on the trail before committing to the hike so we wouldn’t have been disappointed. But that’s why I’m letting all of you know what a letdown the Diablo Lake hike was–no view of the lake, power lines and cell phone towers ruin any beautiful vistas, and you conclude at an industrial dam. I prefer stunning views and the sounds of nature when I’m hiking, so this just wasn’t the hike for me.

Afterward, we drove to the Diablo Lake Overlook and appreciated the beautiful color of the lake. If you happen to be passing through North Cascades National Park, the overlook is definitely worthwhile. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit.

Diablo Lake Overlook North Cascades National Park


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