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Sawtooth Lakes Loop

North Cascades > Methow/Sawtooth
48.2188, -120.2236 Map & Directions
24.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
4,200 feet
Highest Point
8,000 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
The various lakes you'll see on this loop. Photo composite courtesy of Rolan Shomber. Full-size image
  • Ridges/passes
  • Wildlife
  • Summits
  • Lakes
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Established campsites
  • Fall foliage

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
Saved to My Backpack

This is a classic multi-day backpack ideal in larch season. Continue reading

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Hiking Sawtooth Lakes Loop

This is a classic backpack ideal in larch season. The loop can be done at a comfortable pace in three days, or you can allow more time to explore this part of the Sawtooth Wilderness with side trips from your camps.

Start at the Crater Creek trailhead heading for Boiling Lake. From the trailhead at 4,700 feet, take trail 431 past the Crater Lake trail and past the Martin Creek trail at 2.0 miles and continue on.

At 5.8 miles, you can go right to upper Eagle Lake or shortly after that, left to Eagle (7 miles from the trailhead). Neither of these are well signed but you will notice that you pass through some established campsites. There is a broken wooden sign on a tree directing you 1.0 mile straight on to Horsehead Pass (7.7 miles) then you drop down to Boiling Lake (8.7 miles from the trailhead). There are several established camp sites and a toilet at the lake.

To continue to Cooney Lake (7.5 miles from Boiling Lake)head west, following a sign for Cub Lake. In 1.0 mile you will reach the Summit Trail where you turn left. (There is a smaller, unmarked trail to the left just before the Summit Trail junction which you should ignore as it leads back to Boiling Lake). The Summit Trail heads south through lovely meadows. After 2.5 miles, head left on a trail marked Angels Staircase. Be forewarned this is a narrow, steep, shelf trail 2.6 miles up to the top, but the views are fantastic. At the top, follow the trail as it heads north across a rocky slope for about half a mile. You will come to an unmarked trail junction. Turn left up to a small saddle. From there you will see Cooney Lake below and take a steep, difficult but short trail down to reach the lake. Note that steep snow can make for a treacherous descent before July -- be prepared to negotiate this. Most campsites and a toilet are at the north end of the lake.

To continue from Cooney Lake to Crater Creek trailhead (8.2 miles), head north from the lake a few hundred yards where you will intersect with the Martin Lake Trail. Turn left (north). At 2.2 miles from Cooney Lake you will pass a trail to the left leading to Martin Lake. But to reach the Crater Creek trailhead, continue straight another 4 miles on 429 to trail 431. Go right on 431 and hike the final 2 miles to the trailhead.

Hike Description Written by
Karen Daubert, WTA Community

Sawtooth Lakes Loop

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.2188, -120.2236 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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 Pateros on the Columbia River, drive 17 miles north on Hwy 153. From 153, turn left on the county road signed “Gold Creek Loop” and go 1.5 miles. Turn left on road No. 4340, following signs for Foggy Dew Campground. (You can also approach from the north if you drive 18 miles south from Twisp, turn right on Gold Creek Loop road and right on road 4340). Drive 6.0 miles on 4340 where you will pass Foggy Dew Campground. To reach the Crater Creek trailhead, continue straight 0.7 miles and fork to the left on 4340 at a junction that is marked as road 300. Continue 4.6 miles to the trailhead.

More Hike Details


North Cascades > Methow/Sawtooth

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Methow Valley Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails No 115 Prince Creek

Buy the Green Trails Prince Creek No. 115 map

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Sawtooth Lakes Loop

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