While there are multiple ways to access Deception Lakes, this description starts from the Deception Creek Cutoff trailhead on Forest Road 6830. From this remote trailhead, you quickly enter the Alpine Wilderness as you descend alongside Fisher Creek. From the established campsite at the junction of Fisher and Deception creeks, pick up the Deception Creek Trail heading south.
Now comes two of the largest persistent obstacles of this hike: fording Fisher and Deception creeks. First, cross Fisher Creek to the south. There are typically small cairns on each bank to indicate the best locations. Early in the season, this creek can be several feet deep of ice-cold water. By September, you may be able to cross it by stepping on rocks without risking any water above your laces.
Shortly beyond the south bank of Fisher Creek you'll come to a fork that's signed for "ford" or "footlog" — but the reality is that the footlog no longer exists. Either way, you're fording Deception Creek.
Follow the "footlog" path about a quarter of a mile south before cutting over to the creek. This fork of the trail is generally less overgrown and easier to access creekside. Deception Creek is wider than Fisher Creek, so even late in the season you may not be able to get across without dunking your feet a few times. Always cross with caution!
Return to the trail on the east side of Deception Creek. Less than a quarter of a mile down trail, you'll come to a small grove of trees with a large field of devil's club behind it. Before the grove, the trail continues to the right alongside a log. The trail may be slightly obscured by overgrowth but opens up soon after.
Over the next two miles of Deception Creek Trail, you'll climb steadily through the forest, gaining about 800 feet in elevation. Depending upon the time of year you may encounter some blowdowns, but there is evidence of cut logs to open the path. Along this section you'll also see most of the wild blueberry bushes that are the predominant underbrush in the area. It's all well covered by Douglas Firs and Western Hemlocks. Watch out for devil's club, which can be abundant at times. Be careful of it alongside the trail where you can easily brush a hand or bare leg against it.
There's one more stream crossing just before the turnoff for the Deception Lakes Trail connector. It rushes down the slope from Deception Lakes and may split to create multiple distinct crossings. It's significantly more shallow and less wide than either Deception or Fisher creeks.
About a tenth of a mile past the stream crossing you'll see a sign bolted to a tree indicating the turn off for Deception Lakes. The Deception Creek Trail continues south towards Deception Pass. Turn left to head east uphill to the PCT. You'll pass through a garden of impressive boulders, and then come into sight of the creek rushing downhill. The connector trail is about a mile long, switching back multiple times as you climb about 800 feet in elevation.
Turn left onto the PCT, where you'll see some aging signs on a tree, and head north. The trail winds through a field of very large boulders and crosses a small bridge. Notice the lettering on the bridge for the Youth Conservation Corps from 1973.
Past the bridge you'll get your first sight of Daisy Lake, a typical beautiful alpine lake with greenish-blue water, reflecting the trees in the background. Keep going! Continue on the PCT, and remember it's alpine wilderness, so protect the fragile ecosystem by keeping to the maintained trail. Don't try to get down to the water at this point, there's more to come!
There's a rocky section in between Daisy Lake and the start of the main Deception Lake, which you can use to crossover to one established campground space. Continue on the PCT to a larger established campground space beside the lake, with a large flat rock that's a good spot for photos or a bite to eat.
There are no established, maintained trails to the northeast for the rest of Deception Lakes. Similarly for Mac Peak on the other side of Deception Lakes, there are no official trails to the summit. You'll need to have navigation skills and appropriate equipment to successfully complete the scramble.
If you stay the night, follow leave no trace principles and use the established campsites. As you're now in the Alpine Wilderness, for both day and overnight use, make sure to follow the US Forest Service wilderness regulations.
From here you can continue north along the PCT to Surprise Mountain or return the way you came.