Like so many of the best hikes in North Cascades National Park, this trail demands a lot - 10.6 miles there-and-back and nearly 3,500 feet of elevation gain - but the reward of 360-degree views of the surrounding North Cascades and lake-filled cirques is absolutely worth the effort and scramble it takes to get to the top of 5,966-foot Trappers Peak.
The climb to get to the top of this iconic granite perch would have been even more arduous if it weren't for a 3.7-mile old logging road that thankfully takes you to the hike's trailhead at 2,520 feet. From here you'll follow the old logging road and gradual single track trail for 2.3 miles through second-growth vegetation (originally clear-cut in the 1960s) around the Thornton Creek bowl before you'll start the real switchback ascent.
Once the trail starts to climb you'll enter into a lush old-growth forest dominated by western hemlock, Pacific silver fir, Douglas fir and Alaska yellow cedar with Cascade blueberries lining the majority of the steep route. Then, after an additional 2.2 miles of switchbacks you'll get to the hike's saddle. Head left and you'll drop 500 feet to Lower Thornton Lake and a handful of backcountry campsites. Head right and you'll hike and scramble up 950 feet along a narrow spine to the rewarding summit of Trappers Peak.
From the top of Trappers Peak everything will come into view. The sheer granite face of Mount Triumph to the north, Mount Degenhardt and Diablo Lake to the east, The Needle and Eldorado Peak to the south, and Whitehorse Mountain in the distant southwest.
Note: Because the hike enters into North Cascades National Park, dogs are not permitted on the trail. If you will be backpacking, you'll need to obtain an overnight backcountry permit from the Marblemount Ranger Station and Wilderness Information Center located in Marblemount. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and permits are granted on a first-come, first-served basis.