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Desolation Peak

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
View map below

Length

9.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 4400 ft.
Highest Point: 6102 ft.

Rating

4.33 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
Road Closed 11/11/21: The North Cascades Highway is closed between the Ross Dam Trailhead at milepost 134 and the Silver Star Gate at milepost 171 for the winter.
A backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in North Cascades National Park. Permits must be picked up in person at one of the park's Wilderness Information Centers
 
 

Trek a dry, strenuous trail to a famous fire lookout. Jack Kerouac stayed here as a lookout and used the experience to inspire Desolation Angels and Dharma Bums. The historic lookout is no longer accessible to the public, but you can still trek to the location and appreciate the view.

The trail begins on the East Bank Trail with views of Ross Lake. Two miles in, the trail turns east and begins climbing. You'll pass through cool forest and along a creek (fill up before you leave it, there's no more water available on this hike). The trees taper away into the subalpine vegetation. As the trees get disappear, the views improve! You can see Hozomeen Mountain in Canada to the north, the Pickets and Ross Lake to the west, and Jack Mountain to the south.

It's a challenging trek, climbing 4400 feet to the lookout perched on the top of the peak and at the northern edge of the country. You can see well into Canada from here.

 

Desolation Peak

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.7055, -120.9608 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20

North Cascades National Park

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Getting There

From the south, drive on Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) to milepost 138. The trailhead is accessible also via Ross Lake Resort's water-taxi, which will drop you off at various point along the trail.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
Road Closed 11/11/21: The North Cascades Highway is closed between the Ross Dam Trailhead at milepost 134 and the Silver Star Gate at milepost 171 for the winter.
A backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in North Cascades National Park. Permits must be picked up in person at one of the park's Wilderness Information Centers
 

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Desolation Peak

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