Hike Thornton Lakes & Trappers Peak

Washington Thornton Lake Trail

  • Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    11 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    3000 Feet

Forest
Lake
Scenic

Backpack into the pristine Thornton Lakes to set up a scenic basecamp before you scrambling up to Trappers Peak for more amazing views.

To get to your campground or to Trappers Peak, hike roughly five miles along the trail to ridge, where the trail divides. If you head left you'll go down into lake basis where you can drop your gear. Come back to the divide and head right, which will lead you up to trappers peak.

Something to keep in mind, the trailhead is unreachable for most of year. Best time to do this hike is mid-summer through fall. The forest road to trailhead is also pretty rough so a four-wheeled vehicle is strongly recommended.

To get to Thornton Lake trailhead, drive 11 miles north of Marblemount on HW 20 (North Cascades highway) until you reach a left turn for Thornton road. Drive ~5 miles on this road to reach trailhead. WARNING: four-wheeled vehicle is strongly recommended; forest road grade is quite steep at times with loose gravel.

If you're looking to grab a bite and a beer afterward, check out Train Wreck Bar in Burlington.

Pack List

  • Backpacking Gear
  • Hiking Gear
  • Camera
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Reviews

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This hike is VERY steep and the road up is just as advertised. I took a small 2wd Pontiac vibe thinking that the road descriptions were exaggerated (as they often are). In this case the descriptions are not exaggerated at all. I was BARELY able to rally that little car up that road by making my companions get out and hike up the steepest section then backing up and gassing it as hard as possible. It was quite the sight haha. I have driven many mountain roads and this is one that truly requires 4wd. The two nights we spent at Thornton lakes were awesome however due to the experience level of the group decided not to scramble all the way up Trappers peak. I am definitely planning on going back to bag the peak.

about 18 hours ago
about 18 hours ago

A fantastic day hike or steep one night backpacking trip. Only a short drive from the Marblemount Wilderness Center (grab a permit), and frequently available when other popular camps are full. Love this hike, can't wait to try Trapper's Peak in winter!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

First and foremost, this hike isn't for the faint at heart. It's basically 5 miles of up. Very challenging hike and we went on a day with lots of overcast. Luckily we got to the lake before fog came in and covered it completely. We didn't see any views due to the fog; we were literally in the clouds which also meant it was quite wet. Would do it again if I knew it would be clear.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Scott KranzExplorer

Full-time commercial and editorial photographer specializing in outdoor sports, lifestyle, landscapes, and travel photography.

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