The Hiker Mama

Cutthroat Lake

Distance: 3.8 Miles RT

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Season: Mid-summer to early fall

Maps: Green Trails Washington Pass No. 50

Description: This lovely trail gives hikers a feeling for being high up in the mountains without too much climbing. Though the drive is long, the trail is easy enough for young children. You’ll start in the parking area, cross over Cutthroat Creek (we found the sturdy bridge to be very pretty), and head deep into the lake basin. You will be walking above and away from the creek until you get close to the lake. Enjoy the scenery of the trees and the views upward to surrounding peaks. Look closely for lichen, fungi, emerald mosses, and flowers. After about 1.7 miles, you’ll reach a junction; when we were there, it was not signed. The right fork leads around the lake and up to Cutthroat Pass. Take the left fork and you’ll soon be crossing over Cutthroat Creek again, this time on log bridges or rock fords. The lake shore did not look suitable for wading when we were there, but there are campsites nestled close to the outlet creek. Grasses and reeds surround the lake, adding soft color to the reflections of the mountains onto the water. This is one more hike to choose from if you want to see larches and other colors in the fall.

Directions: From I-5, drive Highway 20, the North Cascades Highway, east to around Milepost 167. You will drive over Rainy Pass and Washington Pass, and after the tight turns beneath Washington Pass, look for the Cutthroat Lake road off to the left. The trailhead is about a mile up gravel road 400. There is a privy available. You’ll need your NW Forest Pass to park.

Links: Read about our autumn hike to see the larches.