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Twin Sisters Lakes

Mount Rainier Area

Location

Mount Rainier Area -- Chinook Pass - Hwy 410
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Length

4.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 900 ft.
Highest Point: 5200 ft.

Rating

3.58 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2021
 
 
 

A long dirt road provides access to the central trailhead for the William O. Douglas Wilderness Area. The popular, easy forest hike to the Twin Sisters Lakes is a prelude to miles of exploration possible on trails and cross-country through open forest, past meadows, ponds, and lakes.

The Twin Sisters Trail (980) leaves the Deep Creek Trailhead at an elevation of 4250 feet on the west side of the parking area and loops around to the south, bridging a major creek (the only summer water before the lakes). The initial 0.8 mile is a well-constructed trail at a shallow grade that climbs through the cool forest with a brushy understory. This shallow climb gradient is for the horseback users.

At 0.8 mile, the trail joins the old, 1960's era trail, which can be seen on the sloping shelf below the current trail. The grade steepens and the quality of the trail degrades somewhat due to years of erosion. The trail climbs through the forest, passing a few open areas with flowers in the early summer, reaching a small rock canyon of Deep Creek at 1.5 miles. A short, nearly level hike reaches Little Twin Sisters Lake and a junction with the Sand Ridge Trail (1104) at 1.6 miles and an elevation of 5200 feet.

The lake has a mostly shallow shore with easy access on the north and west sides, with a few small rocky areas. The eastern and southern shores have many inlets and marshes, some of which dry up in summer as the lake level drops.

Formal campsites are near the junction, along the Twin Sisters and Sand Ridge trails. On the myriad of trails around the lake created by hikers and elk, many informal, established campsites can be found. A couple of these on the east side of the lake have peek-a-boo views of Mount Rainier. Be aware the shoreline of the lake is very convoluted and so are the informal trails to the south and east of the lake.

From the Sand Ridge Trail junction, the Twin Sisters Trail continues to the southwest, along Little Twin Sisters Lake before turning west toward the big lake.

At 1.9 miles from the trailhead, an informal trail takes off to the north and reaches a campsite in 0.1 mile, located above the east shore of Big Twin Sisters Lake. The Twin Sisters Lakes trail continues west and at 2.2 miles from the trailhead reaches a junction with the campsite trail (980B). The 0.6 mile campsite trail skirts around the south side of the lake, past a few lake level campsites closed for restoration. It then climbs away from the lake and traverses about 50-100ft above the lake, before dropping to lake level and a formal campsite at the lake inlet. Another 100 yards beyond the inlet is another campsite. Both of these campsites have views across the lake of Tumac Mountain.

The Twin Sisters Lakes are on the northern edge of a four square mile basin filled with ponds and small lakes. The wet conditions also lead to miles of muddy trails. In spring, the ponds are mosquito hatcheries, leading to hordes of bugs in the early summer, and the appropriately named "Mosquito Valley" to the east. In early summer, the fields of flowers in the meadows provide consolation for the bugs.

By late summer the trails have dried out and most of the flowers, ponds, and bugs are gone. Elk roam throughout this region and bulls can be heard bugling in the fall. Consequently, this popular trail is best done in late summer when the bugs are mostly gone, the berries are ripe, and before the October hunting season. In mid-September don't be surprised to see archery hunters after deer or elk.

 

Twin Sisters Lakes

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.7520, -121.3615 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Mount Rainier Area -- Chinook Pass - Hwy 410

Twin Sisters (#980)

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Naches Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Best Hikes with Children in Western Washington & The Cascades

Burton

1988

100 Hikes in Washington's South Cascades and Olympics

Spring / Manning

1992

100 Classic Hikes in Washington

Spring / Manning

1998

Best Short Hikes in Washington's South Cascades

Sterling / Spring

2003

Washington Hiking

Leonard

2005

Day Hiking: South Cascades

Nelson

Green Trails Bumping Lake No. 271

Green Trails White Pass No. 303

Green Trails Goat Rocks & William O Douglas Wilderness 303S

USGS 7.5 min Topographic: Bumping Lake

USGS 7.5 min Topographic: Spiral Butte

USGS 7.5 min Topographic: White Pass

Getting There

From the west, take State Highway 410 over Chinook Pass and continue for 19 miles. From the east, take US Highway 12 west from Naches for 4.5 miles and then go straight onto State Highway 410 and follow it for 29 miles. From either east or west, turn onto the Bumping River Road (paved) and follow it for 11 miles. When the paved road turns right for the Bumping River Dam, go straight onto USFS Road 1800 for 0.3 mile. When the paved road turns right for the campground, go straight onto the dirt road (USFS 1800) and follow it for 2.3 miles. Bear left onto USFS Road 1808 and follow it for 7.2 miles to the end and a small campground with trailhead parking.

 

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Twin Sisters Lakes

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