Hidden Lake: Black Water in a White Granite Pool

Hidden lake is another beautiful hike that we love in Washington. We first learned about this hike from our friend, Ashley, who did a solo hike there and stayed overnight at the lookout. The sunrise pictures were amazing. So Hidden Lake got added to our hiking short list. But it took another year before we actually went (our “short list” kept growing). We finally found the time in the early autumn to go. It turned out to be a great time of the year since it was no longer buggy and it was before the first snow of the season.



Like many hikes in Washington, the terrain changes dramatically from the beginning of the hike to the end. But unique to this hike is that there are stunning mountainscapes throughout. We started the hike in a dense forest, but in a mile the trail begins to reveal soaring cliffs and ridges. Within a short time, we found ourselves going up switchbacks in a meadow of flowers with mountain views. In the fall, it was breathtakingly colorful.




When we climbed above the vegetation line, we found white granite boulders forming the ridges’ backbone. Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, and the lookout at the summit all soon became visible. The lookout appeared tiny high up on a precipice of the highest point of jagged ridges.




The black water of Hidden Lake spills over the far edge of the valley, which marks the border of North Cascades, beyond which stands some of the range’s most gorgeous peaks.

Hidden no longer


For a hike 4 miles long with 3300 feet elevation gain, it didn’t feel too strenuous. I think we were distracted by the beauty around us and forgot about our physical struggles. After scrambling up a final pile of boulders, we were finally in front of the lookout at the summit. The lookout was rebuilt- and since maintained by Dr. Fred Darvill and Skagit Alpine Club- in 1980s after it was decommissioned by the Forest Service. This little shelter is technically free to stay at on a first come first serve basis but a $15-20/night donation is encouraged.


We sat on a giant boulder outside of the lookout to have some of our trail mix and our victory fruit. Yes, we both pack fruit (usually oranges) to savor when we reach the summit of hikes.

Tricia looking back at Hidden Lake below us and North Cascades in the distance.

It had been a fantastic day. We are sure that we will come back for an overnight stay at some point. Until then, so long, Hidden Lake. We love you!


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