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Hiking GuidesWashington

Hiking Guide: Rainy Lake

Rainy Lake

Overview

This hike takes you along a wheelchair accessible, paved path to Rainy Lake in North Cascades National Park. The asphalt trail goes through a dense coniferous forest that opens up to a peaceful alpine cirque where the lake sits.

The North Cascades are not known for their easy hikes, so it is nice to have an undemanding option in the park.

Rainy Lake is fed by snowmelt from the Lyall Glacier and a couple small lakes that sit above the cliffs, out of view.

The cliffs above Rainy Lake
The cliffs above Rainy Lake

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 2.1 miles
  • Hike Time: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 151 feet
  • Fee: Free
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Hiking to Rainy Lake

In September 2020, I hiked to Rainy Lake with my 2-year-old daughter Maia. We started at Rainy Pass Trailhead, on the north side of State Route 20.

Maia in front of nearby Liberty Bell Mountain, elevation 7680 feet
Maia in front of nearby Liberty Bell Mountain, elevation 7680 feet

She is at an age where she can hike for about a mile before she wants to be carried. I should note that it is a distracted mile, with lots of stops for snacks, flower picking, catching bugs, etc.

This hike (if you can even call it that) was ideal for her. It is more of a forest stroll on pavement with lots of benches to sit on along the way.

The lake itself is a grand thing to see for such a small amount of effort.

Rainy Lake
Rainy Lake

If you are looking for something longer and more challenging, Lake Ann and/or the Maple Pass Loop can be reached from the same trailhead.

After our hike, we drove a few minutes up State Route 20 (toward Winthrop) to Washington Pass and walked around the lookout. The view is spectacular and I highly recommend seeing it while you are nearby.

State Route 20 winds below Washington Pass
State Route 20 winds below Washington Pass
From the lookout, there is a great view of Liberty Bell Mountain
From the lookout, there is a great view of Liberty Bell Mountain

Map

Location

From Seattle, get on I-5 and head north for 46.5 miles, then take exit 208 for State Route 530.

Continue northeast for 46.4 miles, then turn right onto State Route 20.

Continue east for 59.8 miles the turn right onto Forest Road 600.

This is a popular trailhead and parking is limited on weekends and holidays.

Get Directions

Resources

Guidebooks

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Photos


Want to hike Washington’s best trails? Check out our other Washington Hiking Guides.

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