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Gorge Lake Overlook

North Cascades


North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20


0.53 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 70 ft.


4.00 out of 5


Parking Pass/Entry Fee


This very short trail provides astonishing views of nature’s beauty as well as humanity's technological “improvements” upon it. Half this loop is paved, allowing an out-and-back for all family members, while the remaining graveled loop section is never steep nor too challenging.

Terrain in the North Cascades is famously steep and rocky with cascading torrents of water. True to that form, this trail winds around a small knob of granite left behind after the last ice age. Deep down below its southern flanks, the Skagit River once coursed through this gorge.

Since it’s completion in 1961, the Gorge Dam has been providing electricity to Seattle’s residents. This dam is just one of many that harnesses the waters of the Skagit. Collectively the lakes formed make up the Ross Lake National Recreation Area.

Views from the trail include a hundred foot plus cataract, which drops through a narrow defile in the rock. More close at hand are heavy moss and fern carpets. Note, as you circumnavigate this knob, how the flora changes depending on the exposure. Informative signboards complete this quick leg-stretcher along Highway 20.

For those who love waterfalls don’t be so quick to jump back in your car. Crossing the highway, where and when it is safe, there is a short sidewalk to access a bridge. This bridge spans a side chasm, one of the many tributaries of the Skagit below. In the back of this chasm is a multi-tiered waterfall. The metal grated, bridge decking is wonderfully vertigo inducing as well.


Gorge Lake Overlook

Map & Directions


North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20

North Cascades National Park

Getting There

Traveling eastbound on Highway 20, pass through the small town of Newhalem. Approximately 2 miles ahead, on the right, is the first of two parking areas serving this area. The first (more western) lot has access to the loop hike. The further lot only adds an eighth of a mile to the hike.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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Gorge Lake Overlook

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