Mileage: 20 miles RT
Elevation Gain/Highest:1600/5679ft (you start at 4056, go to 5000, down to 3800 and up to 5679)
Map: Green Trails Stevens Pass No 176
Favorite Eats After Hike: Wallace Falls Cafe
8/2015 This was a long day hike I did for training and I am glad I didn’t do it as a backpacking trip. Not that I wouldn’t, but I was certainly not prepared (mentally) for it. This hike starts innocently enough but once you pass Josephine Lake on the Icicle Creek Trail, then turn off onto the actual Chain Lakes trail (#1569), it is straight up hill. Think Robin and Tuck straight up hill. Lots of loose rock and dirt. Grueling short switchbacks. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I started at Stevens Pass and headed north to the junction for Josephine, about 4.5 miles in. Easy. Then you head south around the lake for 3.1 miles through nice tame forest. Easy peasy, if not a bit overgrown. Then, you head up and up and up and up about 2.5 miles to the Chain Lake basin area. There is no water on until you get to the lakes. I passed a few backpackers coming down who did not look happy AT ALL. It could have been the size of their packs but who knows. Once I got to Chain Lakes, the views were endless and I didn’t see any people except for their tent down by the largest lake. I guess they were up at Doelle for the day. I explored a bit and because it was a nice hot day and I had earned it, I jumped in and had a swim. Delightful!
Next time I hope to get an earlier start and make it to up to Doelle.
Directions: Drive Highway 2 east from Seattle or west from Leavenworth to Stevens Pass. The trailhead is accessed from the parking lot just east of the ski area, on the south side of Highway 2.