Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
5,654.00 ft (1,723.34 m)
Trail type
13.60 mi (21.89 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.

Cyclone Lake is the largest and highest of the alpine lakes that lie on the flanks of Snowking Mountain in the North Cascades. The lake is a popular base camp for climbers attempting Snowking Mountain. The 7,400-foot peak is an enjoyable climb with sticky granite and a few mixed scrambles to spice things up. Go up on a weekend and you're likely to meet a couple of other hikers; go midweek and you'll likely have the place to yourself. 

The 7-mile trail to Cyclone Lake should be considered more of a climber's trail. There are a few switchbacks along the way, but for the most part, the trail goes straight up the fall-line. After nearly bushwhacking your way up an abandoned logging road for 3 miles, you'll take a sharp left and go straight up hill. Follow the pink or orange flagging as you gain 2,700 feet over the next 1.5 miles. The footpath can be hard to follow at times, so keep an eye out for the flagging to get you through the tough spots. After gaining the second ridge, you'll be greeted with views of Snowking Mountain and the numerous glacial lakes around it. Continue south along the ridge until you reach Cyclone Lake and the tarns that surround it. 

Climbers looking to summit will follow the prominent ridge working southwest from Cyclone Lake. A few scrambles along the way will keep things interesting. Ice axes and crampons are recommended if you are climbing in the early to mid-summer. Bears are in the area, so always hang your food away from camp and use bear resistant containers.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Solitude. Swimming. Great views. Wildflowers.


Challenging route finding.

Trailhead Elevation

1,200.00 ft (365.76 m)


Backcountry camping

Typically multi-day



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Ross Lake National Recreation Area, North Cascades National Park
Ross Lake National Recreation Area, North Cascades National Park
Ross Lake National Recreation Area, North Cascades National Park


There used to be a great PDF/map, detailed trail description on this page. Does anyone know where it went?
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