Shoe Lake — A great hike good for your soul!

 

Quick Facts:

Location: Goat Rocks Wilderness

Land Agency: National Forest Service

Roundtrip: 15.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,625 feet

Contact: Naches Ranger District, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest 

Green Trails Map: Goat Rocks William O Douglas Wilderness No. 303S

Notes: Northwest Trail Pass or interagency pass required; Wilderness permit required, free, self-issued at trailhead; wilderness rules apply

Access: From Packwood, follow US 12 east 20 miles (0.6 mile beyond ski area) to Pacific Crest trailhead at White Pass (From Yakima, follow US 12 west for 50 miles to Pacific Crest trailhead). Parking and trailhead is on south side of road.

Good to Know: dog-friendly, kid-friendly, wildflowers, alpine views, alpine lake, Pacific Crest Trail, Goat Rocks Wilderness, wilderness rules apply, practice Leave No Trace Principles

 

 

It’s a long hike to Shoe Lake, but not overly difficult. Follow the well-graded Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) through cool forest and along an open craggy ridge to this pretty little lake tucked within flowering meadows.

You won’t be able to camp at the lake, so plan on a good day hike. The surrounding meadows are fragile and were heavily damaged in the past leading the Forest Service to prohibit camping within the lake basin. The basin’s meadows are recovering quite nicely now however thanks to this action. Do your part and be a good steward. If this hike is too long for you to do as a day trip, a much shorter loop can be made via a ski trail—or hike to the first viewpoints and call it a hike.

PCT along the Hogback.

Follow the PCT south. Cross a tributary of the South Fork Clear Creek and gently gain elevation through old-growth hemlock forest. Eventually enter the Goat Rocks Wilderness, a sprawling roadless area of more than 100,000 acres. Soon after come to little Ginnette Lake.  There are good camps here—and in early season, a good amount of mosquitos! Reach the Round Mountain Trail at 2.4 miles. Then traverse huckleberry patches and skirt marshy meadows and pools that teem with mosquitos.

After 1300 feet of climbing, come to a junction. The trail right leads 0.5 mile to the White Pass Ski Area where it’s possible to walk a ski trail back to US 12 for a short loop. Shoe Lake however lies straight ahead.  Continue hiking through thinning forest straddling the wilderness boundary and ski lift lines and trails. Start catching views of Mount Aix, Rimrock Lake and Mount Rainier. At just over 5 miles reach a 6300-foot saddle, a good spot for turning around if you desire a shorter hike. Otherwise carry on, leaving the ski area behind. Begin a beautiful rocky and flowery traverse under Hogback Mountain and a craggy ridge.  The views east and south are excellent. Look for big game in the snow-fed ponds and meadows of the basin below.

At a 6575-foot rocky notch on the ridge, turn back and wow over Rainier hovering over the Hogback and its craggy neighboring knolls. Look south and see Shoe Lake sparkling in the basin below. It’s apparent that this lake was named for a horseshoe and not human footwear. Just past the notch is a junction. You can turn left and reach the shimmering lake in 1.3 miles. But the better option is to continue right on the PCT and approach the lake from the south. This way gives you a short loop and some excellent views.

Follow the PCT above the lake and admire excellent views south and east of the Goat Rocks crest and the Tieton River Valley. Look for goats along the ridge, their sign is everywhere. The trail slowly descends making a big switchback before reaching a junction. Turn left here gently climb through open forest and meadows reaching beautiful Shoe Lake in 0.5 mile. The trail hugs the lake’s southern and eastern shorelines passing lots of great spots for lounging. When you’re ready to leave, continue on this trail climbing meadows teeming with deer and ground squirrels, reaching the PCT. Turn right and hike back to your start.

 Shoe Lake is one of my 100 Classic Hikes of Washington. For detailed information on this hike as well as 99 other classics, pick up a copy of my 100 Classic Hikes Washington (Mountaineers Book).

For information on where to stay and on other things to do near White Pass, check out Northwest TripFinder

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