Anderson Lakes, Watson Lakes & Mount Watson

Hike to lakes high in the North Cascades Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness or scramble or climb a route on Mount Watson.

getting there

From SR-20, turn north onto Baker Lake Road (Forest Road 11). Just past the junction with Forest Road 12, turn right onto Forest Road 1106 and follow it around the south end of Baker Lake and then follow Forest Road 1107 to its end and the Anderson & Watson Lakes Trailhead.

On the Trail

There are three distinct destinations that can be done individually or combined.

Anderson Butte Lookout

2.5 miles round trip,  1,000 feet of elevation gain

Hike the Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail for 0.6 mile, turn left, and hike 0.3 to Anderson Butte, the home of a former lookout site with glorious views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, and the Baker River valley.

Anderson Lakes

4 miles round trip, 1,050 feet of elevation gain

Hike Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail 1.3 miles, head straight on the Anderson Lakes Trail, and hike 0.7 mile to Anderson Lakes.

Watson Lakes

6 miles round trip, 1,500 feet of elevation gain

Hike Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail 1.3 miles, turn left to continue on the Watson Lakes Trail, and hike 1.2 miles to Watson Lakes. There is a boot path around the eastern lake and there are multiple camping at the lakes but beware of bugs in the summer.

Mount Watson Scramble Route

6.0 miles round trip, 2,000 feet is elevation gain, Difficulty: Strenuous 3, Technical 4

At a saddle approximately 1.4 miles on the Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail (No. 61), ascend south on a hiker's path following a ridge high above the Lower Anderson Lake. The path opens up into meadows leading to the Upper Anderson Lake with the Lower Watson Lake below to the northeast. Leave the Upper Anderson Lake in a northeast direction ascending a short wooded gully. Continue this direction to open moraine and heather slopes to ~5,300 ft elevation. At ~5,400 ft elevation contour east 0.5 miles on glaciated rock and the Watson Glacier. Ascend south to the saddle that separates the east and west summits. The east is highest and is reached by traveling through thick alpine fir and a steep terraced slope on the southwest flank. Then crossing a steep gully rocky gully leading to the summit (6,234 ft).

Mount Watson/North Face (6,234 ft)

Difficulty: Basic Alpine

Approach & Ascent

Hike the Anderson-Watson Lakes Trail to the saddle above Watson Lakes (4,760 ft) and turn right onto the faint climber's trail that, ascending the the ridge and contouring south and then southeast towards Mount Watson. At the open meadow at 5,000 ft the trail disappears and reappears on the left side of the meadow heading up to the left of a small gully. Follow the regained trail up and over a saddle as it leaves the woods for the glacial moraine. Follow cairns across the rock slabs and ridges to the base of the glacier on the north side of Mount Watson. From here do a rising traverse to the large col between the dominant eastern summit and the jumbled western summits (5,920 ft). Scramble the ridge on the left side up easy heather and treed slopes to the the basin below the true summit, and traverse the basin to a heather gully on the left side of the summit block. Ascend to the top of the gully and through a very tight "squeeze tree" (it may be best to leave packs in the basin) and then ascend an easy dirt gully for 10-15 feet to the summit ridge, a 30-foot, Class 2-3 ridge with considerable exposure on both sides (a fixed line is recommended).


Descend the climbing route.


Standard glacier gear plus a couple double runners and a cordelette for a fixed line at the summit.


  • If not for the glacier this would be a Technical 4 difficulty scramble.
  • The summit is small and has just enough room for a party of 6.
  • The views are amazing and this is a very seldom traveled area.
  • This is a trip worth combining with a two-day climb of Bacon Peak.
  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking, Climbing, Day Hiking, Scrambling
  • Climbing Category: Basic Alpine
  • Seasons: May, June, July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Moderate, Strenuous 3, Technical 4, Basic Alpine Climb
  • Length: 6.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft
  • 4,900 ft
  • Green Trails Mount Baker Wilderness Climbing No. 13SX

Upcoming Activities

Basic Alpine Climb - Mount Watson

Climbing Trip
A pleasant scramble in a very seldomly visited area with great views of the north
Difficulty: Strenuous 3
Wed, Jul 26, 2023
6 participants 1 leader
Registration opens Jul 5
Seattle Branch

Backpack - Anderson Lakes

Backpacking & Family Trip
Beginner friendly family backpacking trip. Registration priority for Backpacking with Kids 2022 and 2023 course
Difficulty: Easy
Fri, Aug 4, 2023 - Sat, Aug 5, 2023
No Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
7 participants
Registration closes Aug 1
Foothills Branch
Trip Reports

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Anderson Lakes
  • Watson Lakes
  • Anderson Butte
  • Anderson & Watson Lakes
  • Anderson Lakes, Watson Lakes & Anderson Butte
  • Mount Watson
  • Mount Watson/North Face

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