Above the banks of the South Fork Nooksack lies Pioneer Camp and the trailhead for the Elbow Lake Trail. Climb gently the first two miles through mature, mid-elevation forest to the Bell Pass Trail junction, a little used route to Mazama Park, or continue another mile to access the remote beauty of Elbow Lake. Large, ancient yellow cedars can be found on the north side of the lake as the trail continues to wind towards the Middle Fork Nooksack.
Wind through quiet forest to two still alpine lakes. Beginning from the Pioneer Horse Camp near the end of Forest Service Road 12, climb a moderatle graded trail for 3.5 miles to a trail junction.
This is Bell Pass Trail, where you turn left and enter the Mount Baker Wilderness in one-quarter mile, then arrive at Lake Doreen just a mile from the junction.
Just past Lake Doreen, look for a spur trail to the right, which leads to campsites on the east side of Elbow Lake. Continue on the main trail and descend gently past Elbow Lake, among old growth trees for 1.5 miles to a view of the Twin Sisters Mountain Range.
Continue further, pressing on another two miles to the end of the trail near the Middle Fork Nooksack River. There is no bridge over the river here, so rest and prepare for your return back the way you came.
If you're an angler, bring your reel; Elbow Lake and Lake Doreen are popular fishing spots.
Hiking Elbow Lake
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 48.6797, -121.8970 Open in Google Maps