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Peek-a-Boo Lake

North Cascades


North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
View map below


5.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 1500 ft.
Highest Point: 4350 ft.


3.38 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2012

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


Enjoy a swim in a nice quiet lake surrounded by forest. Due to the narrow road, lack of spectacular scenery and few campsites, this lake does not get as many visitors as other hikes in the area do. The trail receives little maintenance so it is a bit rough, but it is easily followed.

Start off in an old logged off area, now grown into scraggly second-growth trees. However, this ends soon and you can start to see the typical northwest old forest of Douglas-fir, western hemlock and western red cedar. The trail begins to gain elevation, sometimes on switchbacks, sometimes just straight up on rooty trail.

As you hike, the way is shaded and there is the thick forest duff of moss and humus, with nurse logs growing hemlock and huckleberries. Look for some of the plants that prefer these growing conditions. Early season you will see trillium. After trillium, come some interesting saprophytes. They do not make their own chlorophyll, but take the nutrients they need from nearby tree roots. Pinesap and pinedrops look very similar, with orange stems and yellow bell like flowers. Coralroot, another saprophyte, is a member of the orchid family and has tiny orchid like flowers either pink, white with spots, or striped. Try your macro setting and see how much detail you can capture! In the fall there should be mushrooms.

Reach a high point on top of the ridge, still forested, but with a few peek a boo views. Now the trail heads downward and along the edge of a couple of tarns teeming with tadpoles and a few salamanders. The mosquito larvae keep them well fed. Along with the tarns, these beautiful wet meadows bloom with both pink and white mountain heather, violets, and marsh marigolds. Watch for a trail leading off toward the cliff.

Take this short detour for some nice views of Whitechuck Mountain, Mount Pugh and Dome Peak. The big snowcapped mountain in the distance is Shuksan, not Baker. Keep a hand on children and dogs.

Once you have soaked in the views, head back, and follow the trail to the ridge above the lake. The trail to the lake is just a steep bootpath descending about 300 feet and was never really a constructed trail.

Once at the lake, there are a few nice campsites at the end of the trail. The lake is surrounded by forest, and there is no trail around it. Enjoy a pleasant afternoon of swimming, fishing, or just relaxing. If you are feeling more energetic, you can explore around the lake. Remember the road in and head back before dark.


Peek-a-Boo Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.1577, -121.4906 Open map in new window


North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway

Peek-A-Boo Lake (#656)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

100 Hikes Glacier Peak Region (Ira Spring and Harvey Manning Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails Sloan Peak No. 111

Download a map to plan your hike

Getting There

Head north on I-5 toward Arlingtion. Take the exit for
Highway 530, signed Arlington Darrington at Exit 208. Follow 530 to Darrington, where it ‘T’s with the Mountain Loop Highway. Take a right, and in just under nine miles, turn right onto FR-2080, marked with a small brown sign on the left hand side of the road. This turn off is hard to spot, but it is just before you cross a small bridge over the Sauk River.

In one mile, turn right onto FR 2081. Follow 2081 for 3.4 miles. You will pass a confusing intersection with 2083 on the left--do NOT turn onto 2083, stay right on 2081 until you reach 2086, then turn left onto 2086 and follow it 1.1 mile to the end and trailhead.

It is wide enough at the trailhead and road end for about fifteen cars. There are no restrooms. The road is in good shape as of this writing, but beware it is a narrow one lane road with pullouts. It is also brushy and your car may get scratched.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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Peek-a-Boo Lake

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