Location: Pacific Crest Trail near Stevens Pass
Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Roundtrip: 6.5 miles
Elevation gain: 1,550 feet
Green Trails Map: Benchmark MT- No. 144
Contact: Skykomish Ranger District: Mount Baker -Snoqualmie National Forest
Notes: Self-issued free wilderness permit available at trailhead. Wilderness regulations apply. No fires allowed near lake.
Access: From Everett head east on US 2 to Stevens Pass. Continue east for another 4.0 miles. Just after the highway divides turns left (exercising caution crossing westbound lanes) onto Smith Brook Road (FR 6700). Continue for 2.8 miles to large parking area on your left.
Good to Know: old-growth; Henry M. Jackson Wilderness area; dog-friendly; kid-friendly; backpacking opportunities
Lake Janus is a warm and inviting body of water tucked in a verdant basin along the Cascade Crest in the extreme southeastern corner of Snohomish County. Protected within the magnificent Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, Janus beckons its fair share of anglers and beginning backpackers, berry pickers and lovers of old-growth forests, and folks of all walks of life looking for a splendid hike along the famous Pacific Crest Trail.
Named by legendary forester A H Sylvester of Wenatchee, Janus was one of the more than 1,000 lakes, mountains and other natural features in the Central Cascades he bestowed names upon. In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates and doors and Lake Janus can certainly be looked upon as an eastern gateway to Snohomish County. A gateway however, that can only be entered via foot.
Start in Chelan County by following the well-groomed and pure delight-to-hike Smith Brook Trail. After climbing a 1,000 feet in 1.0 mile you’ll come to a junction in 4,700-foot Union Gap with the long distance Pacific Crest Trail. Left on the Pacific Crest towards Mexico will lead you to Lake Valhalla, one of the most popular alpine lakes in the Jackson Wilderness. Head right instead towards Canada and Lake Janus. Avoiding Union Peak’s steep boulder slopes the trail descends, losing 700 feet in about a mile.
Then skirt boggy meadows offering glimpses down the Rapid River Valley before climbing again. After traversing a brushy boulder field cross a small creek beneath a little cascade and emerge on a forested flat harboring patches of blueberries. Lake Janus lies just ahead. A short spur trail will lead you right to its grassy and welcoming shores. Now enjoy. Children may take an interest in tadpole tallying while you set out to soak your tootsies in Janus’s warm shallow waters. Cast a lure into the emerald meadows of Jove Peak reflecting on the placid lake surface or just stare out at Jove from a comfy peaceful lakeside resting spot.
For information on lodging and other attractions near Lake Janus visit www.snohomish.org
For more information on this hike and many others in the Stevens Pass area and Snohomish County, consult my Day Hiking Central Cascades book.