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Elbow Lake

North Cascades > Mount Baker Area
48.6797, -121.8970 Map & Directions
Length
16.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
2100 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Hard
  • Mountain views
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Rivers
  • Lakes
  • Ridges/passes

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

Above the banks of the South Fork Nooksack lies Pioneer Camp and the trailhead for the Elbow Lake Trail. Climb gently the first two miles through mature, mid-elevation forest to the Bell Pass Trail junction, a little used route to Mazama Park, or continue another mile to access the remote beauty of Elbow Lake. Large, ancient yellow cedars can be found on the north side of the lake as the trail continues to wind towards the Middle Fork Nooksack. Continue reading

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Hiking Elbow Lake

Above the banks of the South Fork Nooksack lies Pioneer Camp and the trailhead for the Elbow Lake Trail. Climb gently the first two miles through mature, mid-elevation forest to the Bell Pass Trail junction, a little used route to Mazama Park, or continue another mile to access the remote beauty of Elbow Lake. Large, ancient yellow cedars can be found on the north side of the lake as the trail continues to wind towards the Middle Fork Nooksack.

Wind through quiet forest to two still alpine lakes. Beginning from the Pioneer Horse Camp near the end of Forest Service Road 12, climb a moderatle graded trail for 3.5 miles to a trail junction.

This is Bell Pass Trail, where you turn left and enter the Mount Baker Wilderness in one-quarter mile, then arrive at Lake Doreen just a mile from the junction.

Just past Lake Doreen, look for a spur trail to the right, which leads to campsites on the east side of Elbow Lake. Continue on the main trail and descend gently past Elbow Lake, among old growth trees for 1.5 miles to a view of the Twin Sisters Mountain Range.

Continue further, pressing on another two miles to the end of the trail near the Middle Fork Nooksack River. There is no bridge over the river here, so rest and prepare for your return back the way you came.

If you're an angler, bring your reel; Elbow Lake and Lake Doreen are popular fishing spots.

WTA worked here in 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2011!

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Elbow Lake

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.6797, -121.8970 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From the Mount Baker Ranger District office in Sedro-Woolley, turn left and travel north on Highway 9 to Acme. After crossing the South Fork of the Nooksack River, 7.6 miles from the office, turn right on Mosquito Lake Road and follow it for 9 miles. After crossing the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River, turn right onto FRoad 38. Drive FR 38 about 11 miles to the trailhead on the right (south). Parking is available directly across from the trailhead.

Coming from the south, approach the trailhead from State Route 20 driving east for 16 miles from Sedro Woolley to milepost 82. Turn left on the Baker Lake Highway (FR 11), and continue for 12 miles to FR 12 and turn left. Travel FR12 for 14 miles and look for a sign indicating a left hand turn for the trailhead.
Turn left on a short spur road, which leads to Pioneer Horse Camp and trailhead. The Pioneer Camp Trailhead is located on the right (north) side of the parking area.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

North Cascades > Mount Baker Area

Elbow Lake (#697)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Baker Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails Hamilton 45

USGS Twin Sisters Mtn.

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Elbow Lake

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