• View from Sourdough Mountain Overlook  A view looking down onto Diablo Lake. Photo Credit: NPS/Michael Silverman, 2010.

    North Cascades

    National Park Washington

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • State Route 20 closed at Mile Post 134, Ross Dam

    After a brief closure at Newhalem due to an avalanche and unstable conditions, SR 20 has re-opened to its normal winter closure point at MP 134, Ross Dam. The highway will remain closed from Ross Dam to MP 171 (Silver Star Creek) until spring re-opening. More »

  • Ross Dam Haul Road Closure Continues

    A short segment of the Ross Dam Haul Road between the Diablo Lake suspension bridge and the tunnel remains closed to public use due to continued recovery following a March 2010 landslide. The closure will remain in effect through 2014. More »

  • Notice of planned work for the Cascade River Road, fall 2014

    Visitors planning to access the park via the Cascade River Road after Labor Day should be advised that the Park Service is planning a fall closure of this road at Eldorado Creek (3 miles before the end of the road) in order to perform permanent repairs. More »

Monogram Lake Trail

In the mountain, stillness surges up to explore its own height; In the lake, movement stands still to contemplate its own depth.
Rabindranath Tagore

Distance - one way Elevation gain / loss Use Difficulty

To Monogram Lake: 5.0 miles (8 km)

4040 ft (1231 m) gain to ridge

540 ft (165 m) loss to lake

Hiking only


Clear waters of Monogram Lake

Looking into the clear waters of Monogram Lake

NPS photo

The Monogram Lake Trail is a steep, scenic day hike or overnight backpack to a small cirque lake ringed by glaciated peaks and subalpine meadows. The first several miles of trail are steep, forested switchbacks. Miles of toil are rewarded when the trail enters the subalpine meadows before and surrounding Monogram Lake. Black bears frequent this area as well. A side trip may be taken through subalpine meadows to a historic US Forest Service lookout station on Lookout Mountain. See the detailed trail description for more information on this area.

Special Concerns:

  • Pets are not allowed once you enter the national park and at Monogram Lake.
  • The meadows around the lake are fragile. Please take care to avoid trampling the vegetation by hiking and resting only on durable surfaces such as the trail, snow or rocks.
  • Fires are not allowed in this area.

Backcountry Camping: A backcountry permit is required for all overnight stays. Permits are limited. There is a designated camp with two small sites located on the shore of Monogram Lake—please be sure to pitch your tent in the designated area, not in the meadows. Cross-country camping is allowed at least one mile away from the lake.

Access: Take State Route 20 to Marblemount, then turn onto the Cascade River Road. Follow this road for 7 miles (11 km), then look for a small parking pullout on the right. The signed trail ascends sharply on the left.

For more information on current trail and road conditions, permits, regulations and trip planning please see our Wilderness Trip Planner.

Meadows en route to Monogram Lake

A hiker enters subalpine meadows, just before the ridge above Monogram Lake

NPS photo

Detailed Trail Description

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 long pants or gaiters, look back for views of Eldorado Peak. There is a trail junction at 2.8 miles (4.5 km). The left branch leads to Lookout Mountain (USFS) and the right 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.

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 places!

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 an interdependent web which can easily be upset by human influences. Please store food and all scented items, such as toiletries, securely out of the reach of wildlife.

Wilderness logo of wolf howling at moon.
Ninety-three percent of North Cascades National Park Service Complex is designated as the Stephen Mather Wilderness, set aside by law for "the American people of present and future generations" for our protection and enjoyment. Please follow all Leave No Trace hiking and camping practices to reduce your impact on this special place and leave it unimpaired for future generations.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

North Cascades NPSC has over 300 glaciers, more than any other park in the lower 48 states. More than half the glaciers in the 48 states are concentrated in this mountainous wilderness region called the North Cascades.