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Thunder Creek Trail

Intermediate

Trail

18.9 mile 30.4 kilometer point to point
85% Runnable
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 5,811' 1,771 m
Descent: -940' -287 m
High: 6,102' 1,860 m
Low: 1,230' 375 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 43% (23°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Map Key

Trail shared by Joan Pendleton

Creeks cascade through beautiful fir forests and subalpine meadows on the way to Park Creek Pass.

Joan Pendleton

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

There is a creek ford about 16.5 miles from the trailhead. It's best to bring wading footwear if you plan on going all the way to Park Creek Pass.

To get the full Thunder Creek experience, Thunder Creek Trail is typically backpacked.

See the NPS website for details on permits, camping, trail conditions, etc.

Description

Thunder Creek Trail goes through the beautiful North Cascades as it follows Thunder Creek from Diablo Lake up Thunder Creek Valley to its snow melt sources high in the mountains at Park Creek Pass. On both sides of Thunder Creek Valley are snowy, glacier-covered peaks.

Trail Start to Fourth of July Pass Trail (Mile 0-1.6)
Thunder Creek Trail starts at a well-marked trailhead at the south end of Colonial Creek Campground. Day users commonly use this first section of the trail. The trail starts in fir forests and follows the shore of Diablo Lake for 0.7 miles to where Thunder Creek empties into Diablo Lake. From here, it begins to follow Thunder Creek. About 1.3 miles in from the trailhead, the trail crosses Thunder Creek on a sturdy bridge. Thunder Creek is turquoise, fast flowing, deep, and wide here. After crossing Thunder Creek, the trail climbs in earnest through dense forest before coming to Fourth of July Pass Trail.

Fourth of July Pass Trail to Fisher Creek Crossing (~Mile 1.6-7.5)
After Fourth of July Pass Trail, there are fewer runners as the trail continues through the forest, sometimes close to Thunder Creek, and sometimes further away from it. Most of this section is high above Thunder Creek with spectacular views. Snowy peaks are also visible where the trees thin. The trail reaches Fisher Creek and crosses it on a sturdy bridge very close to where Fisher Creek empties into Thunder Creek.

Fisher Creek Crossing to Fisher Creek Trail (~Mile 7.5-9.9)
After crossing Fisher Creek again, the trail follows the creek through the forest as it climbs several switchbacks before becoming flat again. Fisher Creek Trail is soon reached. Stay to the right here to continue on Thunder Creek Trail.

Fisher Creek Trail to Thunder Creek Ford (~Mile 9.9-16.3)
After passing Fisher Creek Trail, Thunder Creek Trail travels high above Thunder Creek, leaving Fisher Creek behind, before descending for 2 miles down to Thunder Creek again. The trail then switchbacks up as it again follows Thunder Creek down a steep section for about 2.5 miles. After this steep section, the climb eases as the trail continues with breaks in the forest now. Park Creek Pass comes into view, and the trail reaches yet another Thunder Creek crossing with no bridge.

Thunder Creek Ford to Park Creek Pass (~Mile 16.3-18.9)
After wading across Thunder Creek, continue on as the trail emerges from the forest into brush and meadows. After a final switchback climb, Park Creek Pass is reached.

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Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes

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Check-Ins

Jun 30, 2019
Black Beard
Simone saw a black bear 11mi — 2h 05m

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 7 votes

#5187

Overall
  4.6 from 7 votes
5 Star
57%
4 Star
43%
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Trail Rankings

#217

in Washington

#5,187

Overall
23 Views Last Month
2,387 Since Jul 29, 2017
Intermediate

0%
83%
17%
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Photos

Park Creek Pass is the gap in the wall of Mountains ahead, as seen from Thunder Creek Trail
Jul 30, 2017 near Diablo, WA
Waterfall at Skagit Queen Camp
Jul 30, 2017 near Diablo, WA
The south end of Diablo Lake is seen through the trees at the beginning of Thunder Creek Trail
Jul 30, 2017 near Diablo, WA
In the distance are Mount Torment, Forbidden Glacier, Inspiration Glacier, and Eldorado Peak, seen looking southwest up the West Fork of the Thunder Creek Valley, from Thunder Creek Trail
Jul 30, 2017 near Diablo, WA
In the distance is Tricouni Peak with Thunder Creek far below, looking northwest from Thunder Creek Trail
Jul 30, 2017 near Diablo, WA
Fisher Creek at the Thunder Creek Trail crossing, just before Fisher Creek empties into Thunder Creek
Jul 30, 2017 near Diablo, WA

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