Mileage: 25.6 miles RT
Elevation Gain/Highest: 2300/5400ft
Map: Green Trails Stevens Pass No 176
8/2014 After doing a loop of day hikes in Eastern Washington, I came back over I-90 and caught up with some friends up who were heading to Spade Lake for a visit. I didn’t get to the trailhead until the afternoon and despite the fact that the hike to Waptus is a 9 mile river walk, my hike in left me short of daylight so I pulled over and camped my first night along the river. There was a wide but calm ford along the way and someone’s version of a Huck Finn getaway raft abandoned at the bank.
The second day I met up with my party at Waptus. This lake sees a lot of traffic because of the fact it is a easy hike in with very little gain. This also means the not-so-wildlife anxiously await human visitors. I forgot to keep my pack closed so I ended up with a little bandit in the front pocket. Soon after, we followed around the lake and up to the Pacific Crest Trail junction with the Spade Lake Trail.
The trail from here is NO joke, my memory says it was pretty much straight up the hill. Most of the gain for the whole hike is right here. You do level out as you get closer to the secluded alpine lake but then the trail whittles down to a boot path etched out of the talus slopes of the mountain.
But, oh but the death defying climb is all worth it because you have earned some time in heaven on earth. With none of the crowds of the Enchantments, this little gem has you nestled in a rocky cirque at the foot of the regal Mount Daniel. I spent quite a bit of time wandering around the lake. The map makes it look like you can continue and climb up to the near by Venus lake but either the boot path was too overgrown or I was not on the right tack so I didn’t make it up to it. Next time, I guess.
Directions: Spade Lake Trail begins from the northern shore of Waptus Lake. To arrive at the Waptus Lake trailhead, Drive I-90 to Roslyn/Salmon la Sac exit 80. From the exit, drive north 2.8 miles on Bullfrog Road to the State Route 903 junction. Turn left and follow SR 903 past Roslyn, Ronald, and Cle Elum Lake. 16.5 miles to the pavement’s end just past the Salmon la Sac guard station. The road forks here; take the left fork and follow across the river, then turn right onto spur road 111 and follow 0.6 mile to the TH loop. You will need a Northwest Forest Pass.