North Cascades National Park

East Bank Trail

Summary
The East Bank Trail is 31 miles (50 km) long and entails moderate elevation gains. Lowland forests and lakeside views makes this an excellent choice for family day hikes, an extended backpack or a stock trip. At mile 16 (26 km)the trail leaves Ross Lake, looping east around Desolation Peak through a remote mountain valley.

Access
The trailhead and parking area is located near milepost 138 on State Route 20. Trailhead parking requires a Northwest Forest Pass. An interesting option for long hikes might be boat transportation from Ross Lake Resort (206-386-4437). You can choose from a variety of drop-off points along the East Bank Trail or other trailheads on Ross Lake. Access to the north end of the trail at Hozomeen Campground on the US-Canadian border requires a 40 mile (64 km) drive on the gravel Silver-Skagit Road from Hope, British Columbia.

Ruby Creek
From the East Bank Trailhead, it is a short descent to the Ruby Creek Bridge. This quiet place was the scene of a gold rush in the 1880s, with every foot taken up in placer claims. A few signs of these activities can be found today; look for sites and interpretive plaques near the bridge. Across the bridge turn left, west, on the East Bank Trail. (To the east is USFS Trail #736, which connects to the Canyon Creek Trail and others that head into to the Okanogan National Forest.) In a short distance the trail widens. This is the end of a road-building attempt made in the 1930s to link the Skagit River with Harts Pass.

Hidden Hand Pass
At 2.8 miles (4.5 km) there is a trail junction. A short spur trail to Ross Lake goes west, and the steep Little Jack Mountain Trail heads northeast. The main trail goes north, climbing gradually through the forested notch of Hidden Hand Pass. According to miners' stories, Jack Rowley was guided by a pointing hand through this route in 1879 to find gold on Ruby Creek. Jack Mountain is named for Rowley.

Along Ross Lake
Descending through forests for several miles from Hidden Hand Pass, the trail reaches the shores of Ross Lake and continues with fine lake views and opportunites for swimming, camping and fishing along the way. A favorite place to enjoy this lake setting is from the high bridge across the mouth of Devil's Creek Canyon. Lightning Creek camps are reached 16 miles (26 km) from State Route 20. From here a side trail heads toward Desolation Peak (described on a separate hand-out).

Lightning Creek Valley
From Lightning Creek junction the main trail turns east, switchbacking steeply upward and affording excellent and final views of Ross Lake before dropping into the secluded Lightning Creek Valley. This is an enchanting place. The log trapper's cabin here is maintained as an historic structure and is not open for public use. Just across the log bridge is the junction for the Three Fools Creek Trail into the Pasayten Wilderness. The story goes that three young prospectors were well up that canyon when they realized that they had been duped by a "hot tip" which caused them to leave their claim on Ruby Creek. A few miles beyond this junction are Freezeout Creek and Nightmare hiker and stock camps. One might wonder about the implications of these names.

Willow and Hozomeen Lakes
Highlights along this section of the East Bank Trail are two very beautiful and different lakes. Willow Lake is a long shallow basin, a perfect habitat for water-related plants, mammals, birds, and insects. The trail parallels the lake, with a spur trail down to the meadowy area on the north end. Two miles (3 km) north of Willow Lake is a half mile (.8 km) side trail to Hozomeen Lake. Hozomeen Lake is deep and clear, the perfect reflective foreground for the granite spires of Hozomeen Peaks which rise to the north. The lake is closed to use during early summer to protect nesting loons. Gray wolves have been observed in this area. This is truly a place to protect and appreciate.

Hozomeen Campground
A three mile (5 km) gradual descent brings the hiker to trail's end at Hozomeen Campground. This is a favorite vehicle access camping and fishing area on the north end of Ross Lake at the US-Canadian Border. Many people return here for vacations year after year.

Camping
There are many boat-in and hiker camps, as well as stock camps, along Ross Lake and the East Bank Trail. Backcountry permits are required for all overnight stays at these sites! Fires are permitted where fire grates are provided. Use only dead and down wood, and do not burn trash. This area becomes very dry in mid-summer. Please be careful with fire! Many animals, including black bear, live in this rich habitat. Hang your food and keep a clean camp. Keep the permanent residents healthy and wild!

Permits/Information
Permits are available on a first-come, first-serve basis from Marblemount and Hozomeen ranger stations. Washington State hunting and fishing licenses are required for all who plan to hunt or fish. Please note special fishing regulations for the Ross Lake area. Call or stop by the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount if you need more information (360-873-4500 ext. 39). Rangers have maps and current information to assist you in planning a safe and enjoyable trip.

 

 

 

For Additional Information Contact:

North Cascades National Park
2105 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284-9394
(360) 856-5700

 

For more information visit the National Park Service website