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Trip Report

Shoe Lake — Saturday, Jul. 7, 2018

South Cascades

Trip Report By

WTA Member


Type of Hike

Day hike

Trail Conditions

Trail in good condition


Road suitable for all vehicles


Bugs were terrible


Snowfields to cross - could be difficult

Years ago, my family stayed at White Pass for summer break and my mom tried to take me and my brother to Shoe Lake. Unfortunately, 14 miles was kind of out of our range (we were pretty young) and we didn't even get close. But ever since I wondered about the big blue lake somewhere behind the peaks I see when I ski at the pass. Now I've been there!

The trailhead is a total bugfest, but luckily once you're on trail it's not bad. The trail itself is in OK condition, but needs to be brushed, and there are several blowdowns before Ginnette Lake (stuff that is totally addressable for a day work parties). A larger (but necessary) project is fixing the trenching and knocking down the big berms that have formed over the years and are causing drainage problems. 

Once you get past Ginnette Lake, the trail is in slightly better shape (though there are some areas where there's still trenching and drainage issues.) The bugs get pretty bad back here, so hike fast. 

As you climb, snow patches still cover the trail, but it's easy to see where the trail goes, and they're all pretty safe to cross over. A couple of them present postholing risks -- just walk to the sides of the patch (but not on the newly-exposed ground) if you're worried about putting your foot through. 

It is a trip to hike right by signs that say "Ski Area Boundary". However, seeing what's on the other side of that boundary (a cliff) I understand why they put those ropes up in the winter! 

About 3.5 miles in, you cross out of the wilderness area. Here, views get good and stay good for the rest of the hike. The grade is really nice and manageable, and popping over the saddle to peer down at Miriam Lake is really gorgeous. There are still several long snow crossings here and I saw people doing them in everything from sneakers to microspikes and gaiters with poles (that was me). Everyone seemed to be able to navigate it OK, but I felt much more comfortable with the gear I brought on my feet. 

Shoe Lake Basin is big and beautiful, and it's cool that you can hike all the way around the lake. I got some photos from a high point and had a long, leisurely lunch before heading back. The snow was softer by this point and it was a little freaky, but the gear helped me on those crossings. 


Bob and Barb on Shoe Lake

This is such a beautiful hike which we have done many times, but must have been in the 90's and early 2000 as I can find no reports from us! (Makes me realize how old we really are! :)!) Your reports brought back many memories as we have done all of them in the way past but not in as difficult manner as your Hidden Spring Loop! I must say mosquitoes were extremely bad back then, too!

Posted by:

Bob and Barb on Jul 09, 2018 03:22 PM

Anna Roth on Shoe Lake

I think the bugs have always been bad...I don't usually hike much recreationally this time of year, just because the bugs drive me up the wall. Shoe Lake was really pretty; it was nice to finally get there.

Posted by:

Anna Roth on Jul 09, 2018 03:34 PM

coreyg on Shoe Lake

Very cool. This is one of my go-to hikes. I did one of my first overnights above the lake Sept 2001 (elk ran around our camp!). But I do this atleast every 1-2 yrs. And have also trudged down to Miriam Lake. I have been there with nasty mosquitoes---they're bad there until Aug. But it's worth the loss of blood! Thanks for the report!

Posted by:

--X-- on Jul 10, 2018 01:34 PM

Anna Roth on Shoe Lake

Yeah this was really quite pretty. It's a shame you can't camp in the lake basin anymore, but it's a nice day hike destination, and the Village Inn at White Pass is a pretty legit place to stay if you want to treat yourself on a nice condo vibe. Thanks for following along. :)

Posted by:

Anna Roth on Jul 10, 2018 02:08 PM