There is a creek ford about 16.5 miles from the trailhead. It's best to bring wading footwear if you plan on going all the way to Park Creek Pass.
To get the full Thunder Creek experience, Thunder Creek Trail is typically backpacked.
See the NPS website
for details on permits, camping, trail conditions, etc.
Thunder Creek Trail goes through the beautiful North Cascades as it follows Thunder Creek from Diablo Lake up Thunder Creek Valley to its snow melt sources high in the mountains at Park Creek Pass. On both sides of Thunder Creek Valley are snowy, glacier-covered peaks.
Trail Start to Fourth of July Pass Trail (Mile 0-1.6)
Thunder Creek Trail starts at a well-marked trailhead at the south end of Colonial Creek Campground. Day users commonly use this first section of the trail. The trail starts in fir forests and follows the shore of Diablo Lake for 0.7 miles to where Thunder Creek empties into Diablo Lake. From here, it begins to follow Thunder Creek. About 1.3 miles in from the trailhead, the trail crosses Thunder Creek on a sturdy bridge. Thunder Creek is turquoise, fast flowing, deep, and wide here. After crossing Thunder Creek, the trail climbs in earnest through dense forest before coming to Fourth of July Pass Trail.
Fourth of July Pass Trail to Fisher Creek Crossing (~Mile 1.6-7.5)
After Fourth of July Pass Trail, there are fewer hikers as the trail continues through the forest, sometimes close to Thunder Creek, and sometimes further away from it. Most of this section is high above Thunder Creek with spectacular views. Snowy peaks are also visible where the trees thin. The trail reaches Fisher Creek and crosses it on a sturdy bridge very close to where Fisher Creek empties into Thunder Creek.
Fisher Creek Crossing to Fisher Creek Trail (~Mile 7.5-9.9)
After crossing Fisher Creek again, the trail follows the creek through the forest as it climbs several switchbacks before becoming flat again. Fisher Creek Trail
is soon reached. Stay to the right here to continue on Thunder Creek Trail.
Fisher Creek Trail to Thunder Creek Ford (~Mile 9.9-16.3)
After passing Fisher Creek Trail
, Thunder Creek Trail travels high above Thunder Creek, leaving Fisher Creek behind, before descending for 2 miles down to Thunder Creek again. The trail then switchbacks up as it again follows Thunder Creek down a steep section for about 2.5 miles. After this steep section, the climb eases as the trail continues with breaks in the forest now. Park Creek Pass comes into view, and the trail reaches yet another Thunder Creek crossing with no bridge.
Thunder Creek Ford to Park Creek Pass (~Mile 16.3-18.9)
After wading across Thunder Creek, continue on as the trail emerges from the forest into brush and meadows. After a final switchback climb, Park Creek Pass is reached.