North Cascades Highway - Gorge Overlook Trail


What? :

When driving north after passing Newhalem you will pass a short tunnel and after that you will see on your right a sideroad connecting from your right. Keep driving and you will see a small offroad pullout to stop. 
From here it is the best Gorge Dam Viewpoint.
Soon after you will reach to a parking spot on the right side of the road, here you can find a short trail to the lake Gorge viewing point.

This is only a short hike but I do not think this is a must stop location on your North Cascades Highway drive.



Where? :

Located alongside of North Cascades Highway, 2.8 miles east of Newhalem, take the clear and marked turn to your right.

Google Map Link



When? :

Check Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) what are the North Cascades Highway (Highway 20) status. The road may be partly closed for the winter season.



Due note 1: There is a parking lot that can also fit RV and trailers.


Due note 2: Picnic Table and Toilet are available.


Due note 3: Free of charge


Due note 4: If you want to get more information on the park, stop by the North Cascades National Park Visitor’s Center in Newhalem.





My thoughts:

This location provide nice view of the narrow Gorge lake and the mountains on the other side.

This was a short stop and very short hike, just to see the view of the lake.



The visit:

Soon after Gorge Dam Viewpoint heading east you will see a parking lot entrance.

Here you have restrooms. You will see a short, paved trail leading to the other side of the hill.

You are located just above the dam and from here you have few viewing points down to the narrow lake below.

You can also walk to the highway 20 bridge and look at the gorge below you.


Gorge lake is one of three lakes in the area that are manmade as part of the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project.

The three large dams are holding the lakes water and are used for power generation. The two other lakes are Ross Lake to the northeast and Diablo Lake to the west.


The distinctive turquoise color of the lake is the result of suspended fine rock particles that enter the lake when glacier melts, especially during the late summer months. The small rock particle (like flour) float in water for a long time and they reflect mostly green light.

The rocks are eroded by the glacier and flows into the water through glacial streams that are feeding the lake. The color is impressive manly on clear sunny days where you have good sunshine reflection from the lake.