North Cascades National Park

Pyramid Lake Trail

Pyramid Lake is a short day hike for those able to hike on moderately steep trails. Elevation gain to the lake is 1500' in 2.1 miles (460 m in 3.4 km). There is a broad diversity of plant and animal habitat along the trail. The Pyramid Lake area is closed to camping.

Park at mile 126.8 on State Route 20 on the north side of the road. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for trailhead parking. The pass can be obtained at the park's information stations and also at U.S. Forest Service stations. Find the trailhead across the highway by the cascading waters of Pyramid Creek. Bring ample drinking water. A climbing route continues from the lake to Pyramid and Colonial Peaks.

Evidence of Fire
Along the lower trail, notice the blackened trunks of large Douglas-fir trees and thickets of young fir and lodgepole pine. Both of these trees are fire adapted. Lodgepole pine requires intense heat for its seeds to be released from their seed cones. Douglas-fir have very thick bark, allowing a few to survive fires and reseed burn areas. Both species require exposed soil and open sunlight to germinate and grow.

This slope, with varying amounts of light exposure and wetness, provides many niches for wildlife. Watch and listen for bird life. Snags and partially dead trees host woodpeckers, squirrels and many other cavity-dwellers. The upturned trill of the Swainson's thrush rises from forest tops, while the chattery song of the winter wren permeates the shadowy forest depths.

Forest Glade
A highlight of the trail is the stream crossing at .9 miles (1.4 km). Here, especially on a hot day, is a place to rest and enjoy the coolness and beauty of the stream and forest glade. Some of the large cedars are over 500 years old.

Pyramid Lake
The main attraction is this small, deep mountain lake. Created by an ancient landslide, it is now a place of diverse life. Many insects skim the surface, their larvae feeding in the rich ooze on the bottom. The aquatic rough-skinned newt is a top order consumer. Sundew is another fascinating life form. It is the insect eating plant found growing on decaying floating logs.

Research Area
At Pyramid Lake there has been little human influence on natural cycles. Fish were never planted here. Pyramid Lake and surrounding lands are protected as a "Research Natural Area" (RNA). RNAs are set aside for the scientific study of natural processes and life systems. Pyramid Lake is a place to visit, study, and enjoy. Camping is not allowed in order to maintain the pristine quality of this special place.




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