Lake Trail is a steep (3600' elevation gain in 4.9 miles or 1100 m in 7.9
km) scenic day hike or overnight backpack to a small cirque lake ringed by
glaciated peaks and subalpine meadows. A side trip (1.9 miles or 3 km) may
be taken through subalpine meadows to a historic US Forest Service lookout
station on Lookout Mountain.
Drive the Cascade River Road 7 miles (11 km)
from State Route 20 at Marblemount. Look for a hiking trail sign on the
right side of the road between Lookout and Monogram Creeks. Find a parking
pullout to the right. The required Northwest Forest Pass can be
obtained at any ranger station.
A Steep Hike
The trail climbs steeply, switchbacking up a
forested ridge between the two creeks, at one point briefly breaking into
an avalanche opening with lush growth including false hellebore and
stinging nettles (often overhanging the trail). While digging out the
gaiters, look back for views of Eldorado Pk. The junction is at 2.8 miles
(4.5 km). The left branch leads to Lookout Mt. and the right 2.1 miles
(3.4 km) to Monogram Lake. The Monogram Lake Trail enters North Cascades
National Park and soon opens into subalpine meadows, climbs to a 5400'
(1650 m) ridge, and descends to the 4900' (1490 m) tarn lake.
A High Lake
Monogram Lake usually is frozen until July.
It is one of many small, jewel-like high lakes scattered throughout the
North Cascade Mountains, legacies of past alpine glaciation. Most of the
lakes are naturally fish-free due to their high elevation, deep freezing,
and lack of spawning beds. Some, including Monogram, have been
artificially stocked. Introduced fish greatly change the chemistry and
biology of otherwise pristine lakes. Activities associated with fishing
and camping around these high lakes can cause serious degradation. Please
follow regulations and tread lightly on these delicate and beautiful
Monogram Lake is the hub of a subalpine
community including plants such as pink mountain heather, huckleberry,
glacier lilies, and animals such as black bear, blacktail deer, and a
multitude of insects, birds, and small mammals. All the residents fit into
a interdependent web which can easily be upset by human influences. Please
store food securely and tread lightly.
Camping is allowed only in the designated
campsites available near the shore of Monogram Lake, or in the cross
country zone one mile away. Fires are not permitted in these
subalpine areas. A composting toilet is available near the designated
Pets and firearms are prohibited in the
National Park. Be sure to stop at the Wilderness Information Center in
Marblemount (360-873-4500 ext. 39). A permit (no charge) is required
for all overnight stays in the backcountry. Washington State fishing
regulations apply. Rangers have maps and current information to assist you
in planning a safe, fun trip.