• Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    2 Miles

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Lake
Scenic

Breathtaking views. Short hike: About 2 miles round-trip. Year-round accessibility. Lots of parking. Duration: 1-2 hours.

This is a short hike at just under 2 miles round-trip, with little elevation change. The trail begins at a parking area, alongside Washington Route 20. The hike takes you through the forest to an overlook of both Ross Dam and Ross Lake, before making the final descent down to the dam. The trail is in good shape and has a few creek crossings with bridges that make the process of crossing easier. Be sure to follow the signs to get down to the dam, because eventually the trail turns into an access road for the dam. The views from the top of the dam looking east and west are breathtaking. Down below the dam is the east end of Lake Diablo, and looking behind you to the east, you can just barely make out the floating cabins at Ross Lake Resort.

Ross Dam can be accessed at almost any time of the year, depending on your comfort-level with snow. This spot is a very popular hiking destination in the summer, however it’s nearly empty in the winter. Highway 20 closes for the winter roughly 200 feet past the trailhead parking lot, making this the furthest “easily-accessible” hike along this route during the winter months.

Fun Facts:
  • Ross dam is 540ft tall and 1,300ft long and spans the Skagit River to form Ross Lake
  • Original construction was completed in 1940
  • Ross Lake is 23 miles long and extends north into Canada
  • The Dam is operated by Seattle City Light, and is part of a three dam series through the Skagit Gorge. The other two dams are Diablo Dam, directly below Ross Dam, and Gorge Dam, further downstream
  • Ross Dam can generate up to 460 MW of electricity
  • Hydro-electric dams provide approximately 92 percent of the electricity used in Seattle

Getting There:* Turn off I-5 at Burlington and drive east on Highway 20 for roughly 68 miles* The parking lot is on the left-hand side immediately before the gates that close the highway

Pack List

  • Northwest Forest Pass
  • Hiking Boots, however the trail is well maintained so almost any shoe would be okay.
  • Warmer layers during the winter months.
  • Water + snacks
  • Camera+tripod
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Highway 20 is full of surprises. With hikes big and small in the area, beautiful lakes, and even larches in the fall, Ross Dam is a great place to stop any time of the year for a change of scenery. Fun little walk to the Dam, really cool they let you explore and walk around on the structure, just be safe! Did this in early March and had the place to ourselves.

11 months ago
11 months ago

Stephen Bellrichard

Outdoors > Indoors. Enjoys photography, skiing, and exploring of all kinds.

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