Trip Type : Private Guided
Turquoise Ross Lake- United States-55388-1920-P

Ross Lake - Desolation Peak

Wildland Trekking
5.0 . Excellent
Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level: Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges. Camping
6 days
From: $ 1,575 $ 263 / day
Checking price



  • Stunning views of Ross Lake & the North Cascades
  • Mountain Solitude
  • Wildlife
  • Waterfalls
  • Granite Peaks
  • Old Growth Forests

Short Description

Towering peaks and old growth forests surround you on this 6-day hike along the East bank of Ross Lake. We will start on Ruby Arm - the south-eastern most inlet of Ross Lake - and hike 32 miles along the lake, over tumbling creeks and on side drainage tucked between high granite spires, until emerging just a few miles from the Canadian border. An optional layover day at Lightning Creek provides the opportunity to summit Desolation Peak and visit the famous watch tower where Jack Kerouac wrote Dharma Bums. After completing the hike, we will take a water taxi all the way back down the lake, and have a chance to see everything that we hiked from an entirely new perspective.

Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Trip Type Private Guided
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Lodging Level Camping
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Seattle
End City Seattle

Travel Theme

Hiking & Walking


United States

Cities & Attractions



Hiking Rock Climbing

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Trip Includes

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified North Cascades National Park hiking guide
  • Comprehensive, round-trip transportation from your hotel in Seattle and back
  • All entrance fees, permits and passes
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wild land Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

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Day 1

Shuttle to the trailhead: 3 hours

Hiking Mileage: 7.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

This multi-day North Cascades National Park hiking trip begins with a pick up at your hotel in Seattle, and then a scenic drive into the North Cascades. When we arrive at the trailhead, we will get our packs and gear sorted out and hikes along Ruby Arm. Small inlets, glacier-fed streams, and moss-covered old growth trees will accompany us. We will turn away from Ross Lake for a few miles, climb moderately to cross Hidden Hand Pass, and then find our camp for the night at May Creek, where your guide will prepare the first of many delicious backcountry dinners.

Day 2

Hiking Mileage: 8.5 miles

Elevation Gain/Loss: Minimal

Day two takes us along the edge of Ross Lake for many miles-dramatic views of deep blue water and peaks across the lake will accompany us as we traverse north to Lightning Creek. The elevation change on Day 2 is minimal, as we’re hugging the lake all day long, but the views are spectacular, and we will watch for fish jumping and eagles flying over the lake.

Day 3

Hiking Mileage: 13.6 miles

Elevation Gain/Loss: 4,400 feet

We will spend two nights at Lightning Creek and attempt too summit Desolation Peak as a day hike. It’s a big hike, but we will leave our heavy gear behind and take only daypacks. After a pleasant 2 mile jaunt along the bank of the lake, we will start climbing quickly, and won’t stop till we reach the top of Desolation Peak at 6,102 feet. It’s a challenging hike, but the 360 degree views are stunning, and the historic fire lookout at the top-where Jack Kerouac spent 63 days in 1956-is a welcome respite. After a nice break we will head back to camp for a well-earned dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Day 4

Hiking Mileage: 6.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

Elevation Loss: 400 feet

Leaving the sometimes busy Lightning Creek behind, we will switchback steeply up and get some final views of this section of Ross Lake, before dropping into beautiful Lightning Creek valley. We will make our way up Lightning Creek until we reach our campsite under some towering cedar tree. Our night here will feel very different from the wide open panoramas of Ross Lake-we will be tucked away under giant trees and get to appreciate the rugged and wild forests of the North Cascades.

Day 5

Hiking Mileage: 5.5 miles

Elevation Gain/Loss: 800 feet

Day 5 will take us further up Lightning Creek, through more old growth forest, and then up over a small pass. We will end the day by hiking out a small spur trail to Hozemeen Lake-a beautiful blue-green lake framed by the granite tower of Hozomeen Mountain. On our last night out we will keep an eye out for black bear, deer, elk, wolves-and this close to the Canadian border, maybe grizzly bears! We will eat one last delicious dinner, enjoy the reflections in the lake, and then get a good night’s rest.

Day 6

Hiking Mileage: 4 miles

Elevation Loss: 500 feet

Our last morning will be bittersweet-we will leave the solitude of Hozomeen Lake behind, and wind our way through the forest until we begin descending back towards Ross Lake. As we approach the bank, we will get new panoramas, looking west and south across Ross Lake. At just a few miles from the border, we will have reached a place that’s accessible only by foot, or by a very long and circuitous drive through Canada. It will be strange to see people again after the solitude found at Hozomeen Lake, but we won’t linger long. We will get picked up by a water taxi and boat all the way back to the south end of the lake. We will return to the vehicle, bid farewell to Ross Lake, and drive back towards Seattle, where soft beds and warm showers await you in your hotel.


Checking price
Price From $ 1,575
Price Per Day: $ 263 per day
Check Availability
Checking price
Start DateEnd DateDouble StandardAvailability 
Sep-15-2019Sep-20-2019$ 1,575Limited Reserve
Jun-15-2020Jun-20-2020$ 1,575Limited Reserve
Jul-05-2020Jul-10-2020$ 1,575Limited Reserve
Sep-13-2020Sep-18-2020$ 1,575Limited Reserve

Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Wildland Trekking.

Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.

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Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Intimate Group - 12 max

The standard group size on North Cascades backpacking trips is 6 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides.



Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breath-taking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.

Additional Information:

Meals: What to Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the back country - rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear we Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone

What Gear to Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wild land Trekking Outfitters.

What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wild land Trekking Outfitters.

Trip ID#:


Trip Excludes

  • Clothes, rain gear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
Wildland Trekking
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