Anderson + Watson Lakes

North Cascades, Washington

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Anderson + Watson Lakes


  • Bridge along Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Heather along Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • The trail enters an open meadow at 0.9 miles.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Gentle streams cross Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Mount Baker (10,781') from Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • The rocky trail to Anderson Lakes.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Anderson Lakes beneath Mount Watson.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Anderson Lakes beneath Mount Watson.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Looking down on the trail to Watson Lakes.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Entering the wilderness.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Watson Lakes beneath Bacon Peak.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • West Watson Lake beneath Bacon Peak.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Falls from east Watson Lake. - Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • East Watson Lake. - Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Backcountry campsite at east Watson Lake.- Anderson + Watson Lakes
  • Water winds through meadows at Watson Lakes. - Anderson + Watson Lakes
Overview + Weather
Sub-alpine lakes. Wildflowers. Waterfalls.
Bugs. Long drive on forest roads.
North Cascades, WA
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,400.00 ft (426.72 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,300.00 ft (1,310.64 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


Tucked high up above Baker Lake in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Anderson and Watson Lakes are a collection of sub-alpine beauties. Hikers are presented with a real roller-coaster ride along the way, beginning at 4,300 feet and climbing to a 4,900-foot high point before dropping back down to 4,400 feet at the lakes. All this up-and-down adds up to about 1,400 feet of total elevation gain over 6 miles round trip, perfect for a day hike or an easy backpacking trip.

Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail climbs over dirt, a bridge, and a boardwalk to a signed junction at 0.9 miles. The trail to the left heads to Anderson Butte, 600 feet and half a mile up, a great option if you have the extra energy. Otherwise, save your strength for the lakes and stay right. The main trail continues through heather meadows, crossing gentle streams and climbing to its highest point. Turn around and look at Mount Baker before you go any further; it's absolutely stunning from here.

At 1.5 miles, another signed junction presents a choice: straight for Watson Lakes, right for Anderson. Go right and save the best for last. Shimmering beneath Mount Watson, Anderson Lakes are easy to access just half a mile down the path. These lakes are like a bite-sized and palatable appetizer, a tease before the main course. Continue to Watson Lakes, beneath Bacon Peak, for the full meal.

Just before reaching Watson Lakes, the trail enters the Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness. Designated in 1984, this wilderness area contains 14,666 acres of land that can only be accessed by Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail. Noisy and Diobsud are nearby creeks that flow through the wilderness.

Once you reach the lakes, follow the trail around West Watson's north shore to East Watson. Several campsites and a backcountry toilet are available for backpackers. Pick a site and relax, with nothing but the sound of waterfalls to distract you from the lakeside views.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(23 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(47 within a 30 mile radius)

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