Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
1,400.00 ft (426.72 m)
Trail type
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Sub-alpine lakes. Wildflowers. Waterfalls.


Bugs. Long drive on forest roads.

Trailhead Elevation

4,300.00 ft (1,310.64 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Old-growth forest



After the bumpy, rainy, muddy ride up to the trailhead my wife and I threw our 2 year old and 4 year old into child carriers and proceeded along this incredible trail. The fall colors were in full force along the route, particularly throughout several alpine meadows- in spectacular contrast against the imposing views of Mt Baker peaking through the mist and clouds. If you're near the Southern end of Baker Lake, and there's decent visibility (to see Mt Baker), make sure you add this to your to-do list!

-There is a well-kept outhouse at the trailhead/parking lot (although there was a note saying that it won't be serviced until the spring).
-We drove up in a Subaru Outback. AWD and extra ground clearance was necessary due to some significant pot holes and switch backs along the unpaved 9 mile road up the mountain to the trailhead. If you get car sick, take some Dramamine before the drive.
-If doing this hike with child carriers or if you have any hesitation about your stability, would recommend using hiking poles to stabilize on certain portions of the trail, where the terrain can be rocky and slick.
From today's hike, still a little bit of snow on the trail.
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