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It may not be a natural lake but visitors will agree that Diablo Lake certainly is a beautiful one. Fed by glacial melt and glistening a stunning turquoise in the right light, the lake reflects a multitude of tall peaks.
The first part of the trail leads you alongside Sourdough Creak and you may notice the relative dryness of the Douglas-fir forest, as Diablo Lake lies in a small rain shadow. You may also note the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, which opened in 2005 and you can read more about here.
In about a third of a mile you will come to Deer Creek, which you will cross several times before beginning an upward climb. Don’t worry – gentle grade and a good trail means this shouldn’t bring to mind the relentless switchbacks you might find on other hikes.
The views along this section are spectacular – Davis Peak to the east and Pyramid, Snowfield and Colonial to the south. Be sure to keep a close eye on kids and dogs here as the trail hugs a steep (and marvelous) gorge.
At 2.5 miles you will begin a descent and a transmission line clearing affords you a view of Jack Mountain and Ross Dam. This descent takes you down 650 feet fairly quickly so you may want to turn around at this point to avoid the climb back up.
A suspension bridge that crosses the Skagit marks the end of this lovely day hike and a grassy lawn offers the perfect place for a picnic lunch. Hikers can even take the Diablo ferry (run by Seattle City Light) one way and then hike back to the car.
If you are looking to extend the hike, proceed to the Ross Lake trailhead, which is about a mile and 400 feet elevation gain. Alternately you may take advantage of the Diablo Dam Trail (under a mile roundtrip) , which gives you a neat view of a railway still in operation.
Enjoy the views and don’t forget your 10 essentials!
Photo credit: Josh Lewis