North Cascades National Park
Thunder Creek Trail
Thunder Creek Trail leads south from Colonial Creek Campground through the Thunder Creek drainage to Junction Camp. The trail extends almost ten miles to a fork where Park Creek Trail leads to the south (right) and Fisher Creek Trail leads to the east (left). The trail is relatively easy with an elevation gain of 1,725 feet in ten miles. The terrain along the creek is dense, old cedar and fir forest.
Begin this route at the trailhead in Colonial Creek Campground. From the campground hike south along the Thunder Creek Arm of Diablo Lake for one half mile. A short distance beyond the trailhead a spur trail leads to the Thunder Woods Nature Trail. An interpretive brochure is available at the trailhead for this short trail .
Almost one mile from the trailhead a suspension bridge crosses Thunder Creek placing the trail on the eastern side of the drainage. Hikers will cross a small stream that empties into Thunder Creek from the southwestern slopes of Ruby Mountain. This 7,411-foot peak lies to the hikers left while walking southward on Thunder Creek Trail. Across the valley from Ruby Mountain is Colonial Peak and Colonial Glacier. One and a half miles from the trailhead is Panther Creek branching to the left. Thunder Camp also lies at this junction.
From the Panther Creek Trail junction Thunder Creek Trail continues southward along the eastern bank of Thunder Creek. The trail gains little elevation through this portion of the route. One half mile from Thunder Camp the trail reaches Neve Camp. The trail continues along Thunder Creek and reaches an opening in the forest at four and a half miles from the trailhead. A forest fire in 1970 created this scar that now provides views of the surrounding upland.
Approximately one and a half miles south of the burn scar along Thunder Creek is a spur trail leading north to McAllister Camp sites. This camp lies along McAllister Creek and provides space for backpackers and groups using stock animals. One half mile south of McAllister Camp the trail leaves Ross Lake National Recreation Area and enters North Cascades National Park South Unit.
One mile from McAllister Camp you'll pass Tricouni Camp, lying at 1,970 feet. At this point you're about seven and a half miles from the trailhead at Colonial Creek. The trail continues to lead southward, bears slightly eastward avoiding a very large marsh area along the stream, and begins to gain elevation. Between Tricouni Camp and Junction Camp the trail gains 1,000 feet. It swings around the swamp to a low ridge line along the eastern bank of Thunder Creek. Along this ridge is Junction Camp from which views of Tricouni Peak, it's glaciers, Red Mountain and Thunder Basin abound.
Beyond Junction Camp the trail splits. Follow the right fork to the Park Creek drainage and Stehekin Valley. The left fork leads along Fisher Creek to Easy Pass and Highway 20 east of the park.
North Cascades National Park, 700 Rayovac Drive, Suite 100 , Sedro-Woolley, WA, 98284-9314, Phone: 608-264-5610
Directions from Diablo Lake: Follow State Route 20 to Diablo Lake. Enter the south side of Colonial Creek Campground at milepost 130. Park in the lot above the boat ramp. One of the two trailheads for Thunder Creek Trail lies uphill from the parking lot behind the trailer dump station. This is the preferred trailhead for horses. To reach the other trailhead, walk the length of the campground, following the signs to the amphitheater. The main trailhead is marked by an informational display nearby.