Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
3,170.00 ft (966.22 m)
Trail type
8.80 mi (14.16 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.

The hike to Hidden Lake Lookout in North Cascades National Park begins with a 0.8 miles of rough section trail with big boulders, roots, and wash-outs followed by a few hundred feet of nice wooden stairs built by the trail crew. After the first mile, the forest increasingly opens and gives way to lower-lying shrubs and vegetation.

The trail steepens for the next mile with several switchbacks through thick overgrown plants in the sub-alpine. The plants in this part of the trail seem to grow up to 8 feet tall and grow into the trail, therefore wearing pants is recommended. Watch out for potential tall cow parsnip; an easily-identifable photo-toxic plant with white grouped flowers on the top and big three pointed leaves that you do not want to touch with exposed skin.

At around 1.8 miles, the trail becomes more open with beautiful alpine wildflowers and huckleberry bushes. As you make your way up the trail, you'll notice spur trails split off and you'll likley find some snow covered sections of trail. This is where your route finding skills can come in handy. There is no scrambling until you reach the south side and directly Hidden Lake Lookout. If you find yourself trying to get up on the north side, you'll be  climbing on technical 5th class terrain. Turn back toward the northeast and look for worn trails that go east around the mountain. Once you're on the south ridge, the lookout will be more visible and you can scramble the last few feet up.

Parking can get crowded on weekends and even weekdays at peak hours. To get a decent parking spot, show up early and park facing towards the outlet.

Additionally, please note:

  • A backcountry permit is required to camp overnight.
  • Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash.
  • Staying at the lookout is first-come, first-serve. There are also several tent sites along the trail.
  • A Northwest Forest Pass is required at the trailhead. There is no pay station at the trailhead. 
  • No restroom at the trailhead. Pack it out please.




Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Open Year-round



Beautiful scenery. wildflowers. Lookout cabin.


Rough and steep trail. Limited parking.

Trailhead Elevation

3,680.00 ft (1,121.66 m)

Highest point

6,850.00 ft (2,087.88 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
North Cascades National Park

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


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