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Anderson and Watson Lakes

North Cascades


North Cascades -- Mount Baker Area
View map below


6.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 1100 ft.
Highest Point: 4900 ft.


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WTA worked here: 2021

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

This trail features plenty of variety, with destinations spaced perfectly for families or first-time backpackers. Beautiful hemlock forest, meadows dotted with wildflowers, gleaming lakes, mountain views, juicy berries and excellent camping are all available. Wait until later in the hiking season though, as this area is known for its bugs.

Begin hiking through a beautiful forest of second-growth hemlock. Boardwalks help keep your feet dry and add interest for younger hikers. After approximately a mile of hiking, arrive in a pretty meadow, where you'll find a signed junction for Anderson Butte. This 1.5 mile side trip is a steep hike, but well-shaded, and worth the sweat expended to achieve the summit, offering views of Mounts Baker and Shuksan.

Take the side trip if you like, or continue right, though the meadow where several varieties of wildflowers bloom in August. Cross a small stream, and climb gradually up the meadow. Look behind you periodically, there is an excellent view of Mount Baker.

At the top of the meadow, enter a beautiful forest draped in moss. Descend steeply, taking note that you’ll have to climb this on the way back to your car. At least the trail is well-shaded. At 1.5 miles from the trailhead, arrive at another meadow and another junction.

The trail to the right heads half a mile downhill to lower Anderson Lake; a small lake surrounded by grassy meadows and an interesting wall of rocky gray pinnacles. Camping and a backcountry privy are available here.

The trail to the left continues 1.5 miles to Watson Lakes. It climbs briefly and then drops down to the lakes, crossing into the Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness along the way. The first lake is pretty and a worthwhile place to stop and have a snack. Camping is available, but it is not especially private.

Extending Your Trip: For a more rugged experience, continue on to Upper Watson Lake, the more dramatic of the two. The shoreline and the walls are much rockier, distant mountains come into view, and the berries are prolific. The camping is also much better–several sites are located on rock outcroppings along the lake shore. A backcountry privy is available. Take your time to enjoy the scenery–your return hike is only 3 miles long.


Anderson and Watson Lakes

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.6747, -121.6017 Open map in new window


North Cascades -- Mount Baker Area

Anderson and Watson Lakes (#611)

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

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Lake Shannon No. 46 map

Getting There

From I-5, take exit 230 and head east on Highway 20 for approximately 23 miles. Turn left on a paved road signed for Baker Lake Road between mile posts 82 and 83. At 14.2 miles, turn right onto a paved road signed for Baker Lake Dam Road. 1.7 miles along, cross the dam on a one-lane road, and 2.4 miles in, take a left onto FR-1107. Follow this good gravel road for 8.9 miles and arrive at a junction signed Anderson and Watson Lakes. Travel 1.1 miles on a bumpy gravel road. Privy and picnic table available at trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Anderson and Watson Lakes

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