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

    North Cascades

    National Park Washington

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  • Diablo Lake To Be Drawn Down Three Feet in Early Oct., Trailer-Launched Boats Affected

    Diablo Lake will be drawn down 3 vertical feet for facility repairs from October 1-15. During the drawdown, boats with trailers will not be able to launch or take boats off the water. Hand-launched vessels will still be able to launch. More »

  • Cascade River Road will be open as normal through fall/winter 2014

    Cascade River Rd. will be open in 2014 until snow conditions make it impassable to vehicles, as normal. The road closure that was planned to begin September 8 has been postponed beyond 2014 due to unforeseen circumstances. More »

  • Lone Mountain Fire - National Park Service Trail Closures

    The Lone Mountain Fire in North Cascades National Park is approximately 5 mi NW of Stehekin in the Boulder Creek drainage. Boulder Creek Trail is closed. 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

Strenuous

 
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?

North Cascades is now on Flickr!

North Cascades National Park is uploading its digital image library to Flickr! Be inspired, download your favorite images, or even add your own vacation photographs to the group pool: Friends of the North Cascades. More...