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North Lake

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- Methow/Sawtooth
View map below

Length

10.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2220 ft.
Highest Point: 5840 ft.

Rating

5.00 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2019
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 
 

Hike to a small lake at the head of a valley with good campsites and many possibilities for exploration. Along the way see the difference between the 2018 Crescent Mountain Fire impacted forest and the old growth forest.

The initial 50 feet of trail is both the Twisp Pass and the North Creek trails. Turn right at the junction just past the trailhead to follow the North Creek trail, which has a couple of long switchbacks in the patchwork of burnt forest in the first stages of natural reforestation — many new seedlings.

At 0.9 mile, the trail rounds the ridge and enters the fire-devastated lower North Creek valley. Almost all the trees were killed in the fire, opening up views down to the creek and across the valley. The early summer flowers provide a bright color contrast to the black, brown & gray of the burnt forest. In summer, this will be a hot, shadeless mile of hiking across avalanche and scree slopes, with no access to North Creek.

The edge of the near-continuous burn area ends at 1.9 miles, providing welcome shade on sunny days.  The next half-mile is a mix of old forest and spot-fire affected areas.

Once in the open, west of Abernathy Peak, the trail is out of the fire zone. The views back down valley include Reynolds Peak in the Sawtooths (look back when you reach the 6-foot boulder by the trail at 2.4 miles). After the short section in the open, the trail returns to the trees.

At the North Creek crossing, there are camps on either side of the creek. The permanent bridge is long gone, so a set of four logs, each about 6 inches in diameter form the 8-foot long bridge over the creek. Trekking poles are helpful, since the logs are somewhat springy and slick. In early summer, the logs are underwater and hikers can use the horse ford to get across the creek.

After the crossing, the trail quality degrades to a partial streambed (large loose rocks in a broad trough) in places. Between the streambed section and North Lake the trail quality is generally good, with lots of culverts and turnpikes.

At 3.7 miles is the junction with Cedar Creek Trail (to Abernathy Pass and on out to the Cedar Creek trailhead).  Nearby is a Chelan National Forest sign mostly enveloped by tree growth. The sign has been there for at least 60 years, since the forest name changed to Okanogan National Forest in 1955.

At the head of a meadow, the trail cross a stream above the tarn at 5700 feet, before starting the last push up to the lake. The down valley view includes the Abernathy Pass area on the ridge to the north.

The trail descends to the lake just west of the outlet, where there are camps. Another camp is along a trail to the west of the lake (before the inlet). Lastly, there is a small camp near the tarn above and south of the lake.

An abandoned trail at about 4.9 miles leads to mine sites 600 to 800 feet above the lake, that also have broader views of the North Creek valley.

 

North Lake

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.4585, -120.5676 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- Methow/Sawtooth

North Creek (#413)

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Methow Valley Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Washington Hiking (Leonard

2005)

USGS Topographic Gilbert Quadrangle (7.5')

Buy the Green Trails Stehekin No. 82 map

Getting There

From Twisp, take the Twisp River Road (west on 2nd Ave) for 6.8 miles where it then becomes USFS Road 44. Follow USFS Road 44 for 17.7 miles, where the trailhead is up the access road on the right.

At the trailhead is a signboard, picnic table, hitching rail, and vault toilet.  The stock loading ramp was severely damaged in the 2018 fire.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 

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North Lake

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