3 hour drive from Vancouver.
Easy/Moderate hike – Frosty Mountain Trail from Lightning Lakes.
Trip date late September, no snow on trail.
Trail begins at Lightning Lakes parking lot.
Distance from parking lot to Frosty Creek (walk-in camp site): 7km, 1850m elevation, 2.5 hours one way.
Distance from parking lot to Frosty Mountain summit via Lightning Lakes start: 11km, 2408m elevation, 4 hours one way.
Total 22.2km from Lightning Lake to summit of Frosty Mountain and return. 1158m elevation gain.
A nice moderate hike with nothing too strenuous, the trip to the summit of Frosty Mountain from the Lightning Lakes parking lot is great to do as a day trip (estimated 7 hours return easy pace). The trail is obvious and well-marked, and the uphill climb is gradual. It’s only in the last 1.5km before the summit of Frosty Mountain do the switchbacks become steep and slightly difficult to follow.
The first 7.5km and gradual ascent up the switchbacks will take you through lush forest and views of Lightning and Flash lakes. At the 7km mark is the Frosty Creek wilderness campsite where there is a small shelter available for use if the weather turns ugly. Around the shelter are 2 – 3 tent spots available, a pit toilet, and fire rings. I still prefer to use a portable stove to minimize impact. The campsite was not very picturesque so we decided to continue onwards and find a nice flat spot with a view.
At the 10km mark the trail opens up with alpine meadow and clear flat areas to pitch a tent. There is also a stream nearby for water.
The last 1.5km up rocky switchbacks is the steepest part of this hike. There are some sticks wedged between rocks with pink tape on the ends to help with routefinding. At the ridge you will reach the junction where you can choose to go down the Windy Joe Trail after summiting. The last ascent up is along the ridge and a relatively easy scramble. Choosing to return the same route I did not get to try the Windy Joe Trail so I’m not able to say what that trail is like, but I do hope to find out next year!
This is a great hike for a day trip or to do as an introduction to wilderness backpacking. The Frosty Mountain trail is easy to follow and you get great views of the North Cascades at the summit.