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.
• 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.
• 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.