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Round Lake

North Cascades > Mountain Loop Highway
48.0936, -121.3368 Map & Directions
11.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
4,300 feet
Highest Point
5,600 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Photo by trip reporter Corey. Full-size image

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
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While Round Lake, tucked securely in a hidden basin on Lost Creek Ridge, is a wonderful locale, this hike is definitely more about the journey than the destination. After a demanding initial grunt, amble along a mile-high, flower-swaying, peak-packed, view-granting ridge. Savor one of the finest vantages for admiring spiraling Sloan Peak's sprawling sparkling glacier. And if you can ever move your eyes away from this mesmerizing mountain, a multitude of others demand your attention as well. Continue reading

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Hiking Round Lake

Wild and remote Lost Creek Ridge is a heck of an outing: brushy and full of route-finding practice. Luckily, Round Lake offers just a taste of the ridge, without the full meal deal of cross-country travel. You'll get up a sweat on the initial climb, then have your mind blown from the views along the ridgeline. Finally, dip down to rest near the sapphire waters of Round Lake before heading back the way you came. 

The beginning of this hike is fairly straightforward. Follow an old road through lush forest for a half mile. And that's all the warmup you get. Tighten your boots and start climbing; it's a steep one, launching hikers a mile into the air in just 2.75 miles. Have lots of water, and take the breaks you need; the views from the ridge are breathtaking, so you'll want to be sure to have plenty of breath when you get there.

The route gets a bit more moderate before resuming its uphill pitch up some relentless switchbacks. 3.25 miles from the trailhead you'll reach Bingley Gap, at 4400 feet of elevation. This little notch on Lost Creek Ridge is forested. Take advantage of the shade before continuing on. 

Now comes the ridge-run and what a spectacular one it is. From the flanks of Lost Creek Ridge you'll see a host of Mountain Loop Highway peaks, including Sperry, Sloan, Vesper and Pugh. Repping the Alpine Lakes wilderness are Mount Stuart and Daniel, and, capping them all is majestic Mount Baker. It's stunning country. Take a moment to soak it in. 

After 1.5 miles of this, you'll arrive at a junction. The main trail is Lost Creek Ridge, which just keeps on going for miles (though in deteriorating maintenance condition). For Round Lake, take the left fork. Go through a small gap that affords a view of your destination.

It's a steep one yet. It's just three-quarters of a mile to the lake, but it's 550 feet of elevation loss. Make your way down, and be sure to recharge and refuel with food and water before heading back up and out. 

WTA worked here in 2016!

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

Round Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.0936, -121.3368 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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 I-5, take exit 208 and drive Highway 503 to the town of Darrington; 32 miles from the interstate.

At the T intersection in town, turn right onto the Mountain Loop Highway (Highway 503) and drive 16 miles to Forest Road 49. Note that 9 miles from Darrington, the road becomes gravel.

Turn onto FR 49, (signed for the North Fork Sauk Trail) and drive it for 3 miles to the trailhead. 

More Hike Details


North Cascades > Mountain Loop Highway

Round Lake (#646.1)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Sloan Peak No. 111 map

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Round Lake

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