Thunder Knob

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades, Washington

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Thunder Knob


  • Hiking to Thunder Knob in the evening.- Thunder Knob
  • Vine maple.- Thunder Knob
  • A bend in the Thunder Knob Trail.- Thunder Knob
  • Colonial Peak (7,772') from Thunder Knob Trail.- Thunder Knob
  • Lodgepole pine trees along Thunder Knob Trail.- Thunder Knob
  • Thunder Knob viewpoint.- Thunder Knob
  • Davis Peak (7,051') and distant McMillan Spires (8,000') over Diablo Lake.- Thunder Knob
  • Sourdough Mountain (6,107') and Diablo Lake.- Thunder Knob
  • - Thunder Knob
Overview + Weather
Nice views over Diablo Lake. Open year round.
North Cascades, WA
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
600.00 ft (182.88 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
3.50 mi (5.63 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,200.00 ft (365.76 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


Many North Cascade hikes require some tradeoffs for views of the so-called “American Alps," whether in the form of long, bumpy forest roads or long, knee-busting trails that are only accessible a few months out of the year. Not so with Thunder Knob. This ominously named trail is much shorter and easier than it sounds, at only 3.5 miles round trip. Best of all, there are no forest roads to worry about because the trailhead is right off Highway 20, and the hike is accessible year round.

Thunder Knob trail begins at the north loop in Colonial Creek Campground. This location makes it a great option for campers, who can walk from their site to the trailhead in minutes. From the parking area, head north past a few campsites to cross a bridge over Colonial Creek. Fed by Colonial Peak's glaciers, the creek flooded in 2003 and 2006, causing irreparable damage to several campsites. Walk through the rocky, dry creek bed before entering a forest of western hemlock.

At 1 mile, views open up to Colonial Peak in the south. The landscape begins to change here: hemlock gives way to lodgepole pine, and the soil becomes noticeably drier, both effects from the rain shadow. At a junction, head left for the first of two Diablo Lake viewpoints. Davis Peak and McMillan Spires are visible to the west, while Sourdough Mountain rises from Diablo Lake directly north. Back at the junction, continue to the second viewpoint for a glimpse of Jack Mountain through the trees. You can even peer down on Diablo Lake Overlook from here.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(16 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(39 within a 30 mile radius)

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