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Lake Ingalls

Snoqualmie Region

Location

Snoqualmie Region -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
View map below

Length

9.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2500 ft.
Highest Point: 6500 ft.

Rating

4.31 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 
 

There's no question why Ingalls Lake is one of the most popular destinations in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It is a stunning blue lake, set high in a basin beneath rocky peaks, showcasing striking Mount Stuart as its backdrop. The trail to this treasure is filled with delights, both for the summer adventurer as well as for those hikers who appreciate fall colors. Views of the craggy Esmeralda Peaks, a walk through beautiful Headlight Basin plus a pretty picture of the imposing Stuart Range are just a few of the wonders along the way.

The hike travels through a number of ecosystems which make this a unique traipse through the Teanaway Valley and into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Beginning in a forested valley decorated with a host of wildflowers and underbrush, the trail meets a junction in about 0.4 of mile, marked Ingalls Way. Turn right here; traveling straight will take you into Esmeralda Basin.

The path immediately makes its way up the hillside, soon exiting the pine trees and entering open country. At approximately 1.4 miles, another trail junction begs you to venture right and up to Longs Pass, a side trip that adds 1.4 miles round-trip to your adventure. Continue straight on the trail, gently weaving in and out of contours in the dramatic landscape on your continual climb to Ingalls Pass.

Constant views of the Esmeralda Peaks and Fortune Pass keep hikers enticed for more. As the trail nears the pass, it takes long switchbacks that flirt with rocky meadows and even better views on its way into the alpine. At about three miles, reach Ingalls Pass, where the views become vast, with Mount Stuart and the Ingalls Peaks in close proximity. The basin below to the north is filled with green, grassy meadows strewn with streams, abundant flowers, and popular alpine larches before it becomes a rocky walk and scramble to the hidden lake on the far side of the basin. It is here that one might begin counting mountain goats and other high-country wildlife.

At the pass, the trail forks. The left fork is the more distinct trail, providing a meandering route around and down the pass towards the lake. The right fork offers a more direct, but more rough and rugged route to Lake Ingalls. Route-finding via cairn may be required at times, before it rounds a bend and heads up a draw into a unique and special lake basin.

Camping is prohibited at the lake. If you plan to camp, take the right branch of the trail, which drops into Headlight Basin and numerous camps, some with views across the Ingalls Creek valley to Mount Stuart. This lower route continues across Headlight Creek, then climbs to meet the other trail at a signed junction less than a quarter-mile from the lake.

The lake is a spectacular sky-blue and surrounded by rocks that fall in giant slabs into the water’s sandy floor. Ingalls Peaks reach high above the lake on the one side, while Mount Stuart stands majestically to its northeast. There are few places as lovely as this. Follow a boot path around the far side of the lake for a different, beautiful perspective.

WTA Pro Tip: Be prepared on summer weekends to share this wilderness wonder with other outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a destination that cannot be denied. In the fall, the larch trees turn an electric orange which will surely draw the eye.

**Note that dogs are not allowed at Lake Ingalls. Canine friends are allowed on the trail to Esmeralda Basin, which shares the first 0.4 miles with the trail to Lake Ingalls. However, from the junction of the Esmeralda Basin trail and the Ingalls Way trail, dogs are no longer allowed. This includes Ingalls Pass and the Longs Pass.

 

Lake Ingalls

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.4367, -120.9372 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Snoqualmie Region -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway

Ingalls Way (#1390)

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Cle Elum Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Mount Stuart No. 209 map

Download a map to plan your hike

Getting There

From eastbound I-90, take Exit 85. Cross the freeway on the overpass and turn right onto Highway 970. Drive 970 for 7 miles and turn left on Teanaway Road. 

7.1 miles later, bear right as the road becomes North Fork Teanaway Road. 5.9 miles past this fork, where the road becomes unpaved, take the right fork to Forest Road 9737. Drive 1.1 miles and stay left at the fork signed Beverly Campground. Continue on this road a further 6.7 miles and keep right at a fork signed for 'Trail 1394'. Drive another 1.7 miles to the trailhead. It is 22.5 miles to the Esmeralda Basin/Ingalls Lake trailhead from the turn off of Highway 970.

If the trailhead is full, park ONLY on the west side of the road (it is signed "Parking This Side Only") to allow safe traffic flow.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 

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Lake Ingalls

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