Hike description: If you are looking for a family hike to introduce short legs to the wonders of a walk in the forest and lunch by the water, you should check out this trail in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area. You walk through the campground and the first half mile of the trail follows Thunder Arm of Diablo Lake. Thunder Creek brings glacial flour, ground-up rocks from the glaciers at its headwaters, to add different hues to the lake. The rest of the trail is within sight and/or sound of the aptly named Thunder Creek.
About 300 yards from the trailhead you will come to the Thunder Woods Nature Trail on your right. Take this 0.9 of a mile self-guided nature trail, admiring the forest and the water peaking through the trees. Back on the main trail you will be walking through old cedar and fir trees. At about one mile you will cross Thunder Creek on a sturdy new bridge. Just past the bridge is the side trail, on your right, down to Thunder Camp on Thunder Creek. At 1.7 miles from the trailhead you will pass the Fourth of July Trail junction. In another 0.2 of a mile or so you will come to the trail, on your right, to Neve Camp, your destination for this trip.
Directions: Drive Highway 20, the North Cascades Highway, about 24 miles east of Marblemount. Just east of milepost 130 turn south into Colonial Creek Campground. Park in the day-use parking lot. For the hiking trailhead, walk south through the campground for about 500 yards to the amphitheater. This trailhead is marked by an informational display board.
Difficulty rating: 1 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult) Miles round-trip: 4.7 Elevation: 300 feet Best time of year: April to November Map: Green Trails Diablo No. 48 Pass: No entrance fee for the North Cascades National Park.
Also: Water and toilet facilities are available at the campground. The lakefront campsites at Colonial Creek Campground are open all year round. Traffic on the trail will be lower during the late fall. The 10 Essentials and adequate food, water and clothing (rain gear) should always be in your pack, along with a small trash bag so you can practice Leave No Trace wilderness travel. This trail is shared by hikers and horses. Be sure to check rules before heading out with your pets in tow.
Info: North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 360-854-7200, www.nps.gov/noca; “Day Hiking North Cascades,” Mountaineers Books
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee. For other hikes, visit www.thenewstribune.com/hiking.