Waptus Lake Backpack

  • July 11, 2014 · 6:30 AM
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Let’s do an overnight backpack to Waptus Lake.  We’ll start the trip at the Salmon la Sac trailhead, which connect to Waptus River Trail #1310.  We’ll also get to ford the Waptus River and possibly Hour Creek, depending water levels.  On the way back, we may stop somewhere for ice cream or dinner.  I will need at least 3 people willing to drive.

Note: This trip requires a ford of the Waptus River and possibly Hour Creek going in and coming out, so bring Teva sandals or equivalent footwear to ford the river and possibly the creek.

Excerpt from ''Backpacking Washington,'' by Craig Romano

Hike #34 – Waptus Lake.  Nearly 2 miles long and situated in one of the largest glacial troughs in the Central Cascades, Waptus is the largest lake in the 394,000-acre Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  There are campsites aplenty and many side-trip opportunities.  But don’t feel compelled to move on.  You won’t tire of staring across Waptus’ sparkling waters at a towering flank of granite peaks that shimmer in the light of both sun and moon.

• Trailhead ETA: 9:30 am.              • Round Trip: 19 miles.

• Starting Elevation: 2,500 feet.  • Ascent Elevation: 900 feet.

• High Point: 3,100 feet.                 • Difficulty: Moderate.

• Pace: Slow/moderate.                 • Hiking Time: 11 hours.

• Special Features: Spectacular river valley.  Largest lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

• Special Concerns: Required ford of Waptus River is dangerous to impossible in early season.

• Maps: Green Trails Kachess Lake, No. 208; Stevens Pass, No. 176.

GPS Coordinates:

• Salmon La Sac Trailhead: N47°27'46.5" W121°12'21.2"

• Waptus River Horse Ford: N47°29'34.3" W121°09'32.8"

• Spade Lake Trail Junction: N47°30'17.2" W121°10'20.6"

What to Bring: Backpack with the 10 Essentials, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, cookware, dinnerware, water filter, appropriate hiking attire (no blue jeans, cotton clothing, or sneakers), plenty of water, lunch/energy snacks, sturdy/comfortable shoes + a bag for wet/soiled pairs, trekking poles, sun preventatives, bug repellent, and your camera!  Dress according to the forecast (layers!).

Contact: Cle Elum Ranger District, (509) 852-1100.

Permits/Regulations: Northwest Forest Pass required; free Alpine Lakes Wilderness permit required May 15-Oct 31, self-issued at trailhead; wilderness rules apply; campfires allowed; dogs allowed on leash.

Getting there: From Seattle, drive I-90 east to exit 80 (signed “Roslyn/Salmon la Sac”).  Turn left onto Bull Frog Road and follow it 2.8 miles to State Route 903.  Turn left on SR 903 (which eventually becomes Salmon la Sac Road) and drive 16.6 miles to the old guard station and pavement’s end.  Bear left, crossing Cle Elum River to the Salmon la Sac Campground, and at the campground entrance bear right, continuing 0.6 mile to the Salmon la Sac trailhead (elev. 2500 ft).  Privy available.

Useful Links:

7-Day Weather Forecast

Salmon La Sac Trailhead

Waptus River Trail #1310

WTA Hiking Guide and Trip Reports

Robert's Cell: (253) 677-6992.

Disclaimer: Trailside is not a professional guide service.  Our leaders function, as facilitators only, to enhance your outdoor experience.  Reports of trail and weather conditions are based on best available information, are subject to change, and are no guarantee of fitness for any particular purpose or appropriate for a certain fitness level.  You may join us on this hike at your own risk.  Keep in mind that hiking involves risks and weather changes quickly in the mountains.  You are responsible for your own safety and the more prepared you are, the better the chance you will remain safe.  Signing up for any Trailside organized event indicates that you have read, understand, and agree to the terms of this disclaimer and hold harmless all Trailside Organizers and Leaders in the event of injury or loss.

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  • Devon

    Thanks for the pictures Robert!

    July 23, 2014

  • Devon

    Sorry to bug you guys but would anybody mind putting some pictures up?

    July 22, 2014

  • Devon

    Awesome trip, thanks guys!

    July 12, 2014

  • David T.

    Wish I could have gone Robert, but my ankle and foot is still swollen from having twisted at home.

    July 11, 2014

  • Devon

    I'm signing up for "Yes" but I will have to remove myself from the list depending on if I can borrow/share a tent or not and also depending on what I learn about the creek fording. Could you maybe describe the creek fording a bit Robert? I don't have appropriate shoes exactly but I do have some sneakers. Would it be ok to use those?

    July 4, 2014

    • Robert A

      Yes.

      July 10, 2014

    • Devon

      Thank you!

      July 10, 2014

  • Christen

    If they will fit in my pack, I am bringing makings for smores!

    July 9, 2014

    • Christen

      You have a deal.

      July 10, 2014

    • Devon

      Sweet

      July 10, 2014

  • Christen

    I know I said I could carpool but unless you want to be dropped off in Cashmere/Wenatchee on Saturday night and/or go to Index on Sunday I cannot carpool.

    July 5, 2014

    • Robert A

      Are you going to meet us at the Park & Ride and follow us over or meet us at the trailhead?

      July 10, 2014

    • Christen

      I can meet you at the P&R.

      July 10, 2014

  • Christen

    I am bringing my dog. I have space for one person in my tent if you do not mind a dog. I moved and forgot my stove at my parents. I will either need to borrow a stove or make an alcohol stove.

    July 5, 2014

  • Devon

    Also, I need to know if an America the Beautiful pass would work? I guess I might need change my RSVP to "no" after all.

    July 4, 2014

    • Robert A

      The America the Beautiful pass does work, and we only need one pass per vehicle.

      July 4, 2014

    • Devon

      Ok awesome

      July 4, 2014

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