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Deception Lakes

Central Cascades > Stevens Pass - West
47.6527, -121.1901 Map & Directions
9.85 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
2,630 feet
Highest Point
5,090 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Daisy Lake at Deception Lakes. Photo by AaronC. Full-size image
  • Mountain views
  • Lakes
  • Established campsites
  • Rivers
Saved to My Backpack

This group of small lakes in the Alpine Wilderness sits along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) between Mac Peak and Surprise Mountain. It's a great rest stop for a multi-day backpacking trip along the PCT, a campsite for an overnight trip, or even a destination for a long day hike. Continue reading

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Hiking Deception Lakes

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.

Toilet Information

  • No toilet at trailhead

More information about toilets

Hike Description Written by
Aaron Czechowski, WTA Correspondent

Deception Lakes

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.6527, -121.1901 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From Skykomish, go east on Highway 2. You'll soon pass the Skykomish Ranger station on the left, then continue for 0.5 mile, and turn right onto the Foss River Road, FR 68. The road is paved for a while, then transitions to dirt/gravel. About 2.5 miles from the highway, you'll cross under a railroad trestle. One mile later, take the left fork for FR 6830. (The right fork continues on FR 68 to the Necklace Valley trailhead.)

FR-6830 winds up through the trees away from the Foss River towards Tonga Ridge. While it has its share of potholes, it's currently well-maintained. Less than seven miles, continue straight on FR 6830 (don't turn onto FR 310 towards the Tonga Ridge trailhead). Get comfortable and stay on FR 6830 for another 18 miles as it winds around Mount Sawyer.

The trailhead has a forest service signboard labeled "Deception Ck.C.O." Park to the side without blocking the road. The road ends several hundred feet past the trailhead, with slight room to turn around. (Some maps show the road continuing, but the bridge is out past the embankment at the end of the road.) You can also access Tonga Ridge Trail across the road.

Use the forest service kiosk near the trailhead to issue your party a free wilderness permit, for both day and multi-day trips.

There are no other services at this trailhead.

You're most likely to be able to access this trailhead during the summer and fall months, otherwise it will be snowed in.

More Hike Details


Central Cascades > Stevens Pass - West

Deception Lakes (#1059.2)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Skykomish Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails 176S: Alpine Lakes West, Stevens Pass

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Deception Lakes

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