Spectacle Lake is truly worthy of the name - it's quite a sight to see. Nestled at the base of Chikamin Ridge and just a short jaunt from the Pacific Crest Trail, this lake is one of the true gems of Snoqualmie Pass.
There are several options to access Spectacle Lake. You can approach from the north or south along the Pacific Crest Trail, or via the Mineral Creek Trail, which sets you up for a hefty hike of more than 26 miles. Luckily, there's a more straightforward way to get there: by starting from the trailhead near Owhi Campground at Cooper Lake.
From here, follow a relatively flat trail with little elevation gain to Pete Lake. Depending on the time of year, there may be creeks to negotiate along the way, but none should present a serious obstacle. Pete Lake, about four miles in, makes for a great lunch spot or overnight camping destination for first-timers or families. Just be warned that it's a popular place -- you won't be alone if you decide to visit Pete Lake.
A scant one mile from Pete Lake, you will encounter Lemah Creek, which can present a challenge to even the most experienced hikers depending on the season. If fording the creek or crossing on a log seems unsafe you can opt to take a 2.7-mile detour, but be sure to refer to your map if you choose to do this. Consider replenishing your water in Lemah Creek if you're running low -- it's a relatively reliable source even late into the season.
Crossing the creek, the trail soon joins up with the Pacific Crest Trail, passing through a burnt-out area left behind by the Lemah Creek fire of 2009. Pause to take in blooming fireweed and the sound of woodpeckers, evidence of nature at work bringing this area back to life. You'll need a break before tackling the switchbacks ahead -- nearly all of the elevation gain on this trail occurs in the last mile. Fortunately the grade is reasonably gradual and well-constructed, and a bridge over a pretty waterfall breaks up the climb.
At the top of the ridge, encounter a junction: Park Lakes to the left, Spectacle Lake to the right. Turn right. Soon you'll see spectacular Spectacle Lake below. It's a steep, rooty scramble down to the bottom, so watch your step.
Once at Spectacle Lake, the way is not entirely obvious. Multiple social trails course their way through the foliage, the legacy of campers looking for the perfect spot. The terrain around the perimeter of the lake is relatively steep, most of the campsites are clustered on a hilly isthmus that juts out into the lake.
A precarious privy perches on a hillside above the south side of the lake. The good news is, you really can't go wrong. Find a good tent site and enjoy one of the area's best alpine lakes.
- 22.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 1,500 feet
- Highest Point
- 4,600 feet
Hiking Spectacle Lake
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.4337, -121.1888 Open in Google Maps