Time for Recreation in the North Cascades: Debris Avalanche Affects Use of Ross Dam Haul Road

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
Date: March 25, 2010
Contact: Charles Beall, 360-854-7302

With the onset of spring, now is the time to plan for recreation in the North Cascades. Many low elevation trails are open for day and overnight hikes and Diablo Lake makes a great destination for early season paddling.

Boaters and paddlers on Diablo Lake and hikers on the Diablo Lake Trail are advised, however, that a debris avalanche occurred on March 15 at the head of Diablo Lake, rendering unusable a local access road that connects Diablo Lake with Ross Lake. The approximately one-mile Ross Dam Haul Road provides Seattle City Light with access from Diablo Lake to the Ross Powerhouse and the top of Ross Dam. It also allows Ross Lake Resort to provide their guests with access from Diablo Lake and provides paddlers with portage between Diablo Lake and Ross Lake.

The debris avalanche is approximately 200 feet wide at its toe and contains approximately 56,000 cubic meters of material. It covers the Ross Dam Haul Road and destroyed Seattle City Light’s barge dock, Ross Lake Resort’s truck, and the National Park Service’s canoe and kayak landing.

The area remains unstable and dangerous. No person should be above, below, or on the sides of the debris avalanche. Boaters and paddlers should not approach the area. A floating marker will be installed, but until then, boaters and paddlers are asked to turn around when the Ross Dam Haul Road tunnel becomes visible. Gates will be installed at the Ross Dam Haul Road tunnel and on the suspension bridge over the gorge to prevent hikers from entering the area.

After the area is evaluated and stabilized by a qualified contractor, work will begin to construct a new barge landing upstream of the slide to support Seattle City Light’s operations and a new dock and trail downstream of the slide to support Ross Lake Resort and National Park Service operations, and provide paddlers with portage between Diablo Lake and Ross Lake.

“We are working with Seattle City Light to provide paddlers, hikers, and Ross Lake Resort guests with access between the two lakes as soon as it is safe to do so,” explained North Cascades National Park Complex Superintendent Chip Jenkins. “In the meantime, for your safety, please avoid the area near the slide and explore some of the many other wonderful areas in the park available to you this spring.”

Access to Ross Dam Trail, Happy-Panther Trail, and East Bank Trail all remain possible from the Ross Dam Trailhead along the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) at milepost 134. Access to the Diablo Lake Trail remains possible from the trailhead at the end of the Diablo Dam Road which leaves the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) at milepost 127.5. Through hikes along the Diablo Lake Trail between this trailhead and the Ross Dam Trailhead are not currently possible due to the debris avalanche.

Current trail information is available at https://www.nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/hiking.htm

Digital images of the debris avalanche are available for viewing, download, and use at:

Last updated: August 11, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284


(360) 854-7200

Contact Us