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East Bank Ross Lake

North Cascades > North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
48.7055, -120.9608 Map & Directions
31.0 miles, one-way
Elevation Gain
800 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
East Bank Ross Lake Trail between Rainbow Point and Devil's Junction. Photo by JoyHiker.
  • Good for kids
  • Lakes

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

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You'll enjoy moderate elevation gain and fabulous views on this lakeside trail that stretches more than 30 miles north -- nearly to Canada. Continue reading

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Hiking East Bank Ross Lake

You'll enjoy moderate elevation gain and fabulous views on this lakeside trail that stretches more than 30 miles north -- nearly to Canada.

From the trailhead, it's a short descent to a bridge over Ruby Creek. Take time to note the history here -- this was the scene of a gold rush in the 1880s, and this spot was overrun with claims. Look around for signs of these activities, or interpretive plaques near the bridge.

Cross the bridge, and come to a junction with the Canyon Creek Trail. Here make a left to stay on the East Bank Trail. Continue on for 2.8 miles to a second trail junction.

The trail heere leads to Ross Lake and several campsites, which you will need permits for. Be sure to have your permit before you begin your hike. However, if you're not stopping here, stay on the main trail, which heads north, climbing moderately through Hidden Hand Pass. From Hidden Hand Pass, the trail leads downhill through dense forest, ultimately reaching the shores of Ross Lake. This allows for plenty of swimming, fishing, and camping opportunties, both on the way to, and along the shoreline.

Meandering along the lake, this trail guides families, stock trips, and new backpackers along an easy introductory hike. 16 miles in (only about halfway) the trail veers away from vivid-blue Ross Lake and follows Lightning Creek into a remote mountain valley.

The valley trail soon begins switchbacking uphill, offering ever-improving views of Ross Lake before heading over a small notch and into a quiet valley. There's an old trapper's cabin here, kept up as a historic structure. As such, it's not available for public use, but stay a while and take photos of it, appreciating that once upon a time, people strove to make a living in this isolated place.

Near the cabin is a log bridge -- crossing it leads to a junction for the Three Fools Creek Trail and another opportunity to disappear into the Pasayten Wilderness. Staying onthe East Bank Ross Lake trail, hikers will pass Willow Lake, heading on to Hozomeen Lake.

Here, you're just three miles shy of the northern terminus, the curious can take a short side trail to Hozomeen Lake, where views of craggy Hozomeen Peak reflected in the lake make a stunning lunch or dinner spot. Note however, that Hozomeen Lake is closed from April 1 to May 31 annually to protect nesting loons.

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

East Bank Ross Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.7055, -120.9608 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

A $26 backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex (incl. Ross Lake National Rec Area and Lake Chelan National Rec Area). Permits must be picked up in person at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount. See the National Park Service website for more information.

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee


WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From the south, drive on Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) to milepost 138. The trailhead is accessible also via Ross Lake Resort's water-taxi, which will drop you off at various point along the trail.

More Hike Details


North Cascades > North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20

East Bank Ross Lake (#737)

North Cascades National Park

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East Bank Ross Lake

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