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Trip Overview

trail map

After the Stafford Creek trip the previous year (see the trip index page), I was wondering what I could come up with in 2012 to match. Was there something out there that I had overlooked? Yes, there was.

Maybe I presumed that this would be too crowded, since you can get access with relatively short trail distance. Maybe I presumed that the destinations would not be worth the trouble. This trip would have to be classified as a little wilder than most, appealing to the devotees of the obscure.

The obvious destinations are little Hope and Mig lakes. Barely two and a half miles total to reach the more distant Mig Lake. Cute but nothing spectacular — lots of similar size lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness are unnamed. There is quite a lot of Crest Trail traffic passing by, on the last leg of the section ending at Stevens Pass. Tunnel Creek Trail serves as an intermediate access route, narrow and very persistently uphill, enough to make the short mileage seem a little longer. This trail is no pushover, but hardly deserving of the "most difficult" rating assigned by the Forest Service. The trick to making it all worthwhile is that you have to keep going along the more civilized Crest Trail, either northeast over Swimming Deer pass to Josephine Lake, or southwest toward Trap Pass. The longer miles, as it turns out, are not so boring after all.

The trailhead is located approximately 4 road miles southwest of Stevens Pass on Highway 520. The Forest Service access road cuts abruptly away from the highway to the south at about the worst possible place, at the bulge of a hairpin turn in a section of divided highway. If you are coming from an awkward direction, overshoot the mark a short distance until you can make a safe, sweeping U-turn across lanes. Once you reach the access road, continue straight approximately 0.5 miles, not being distracted by various side roads (gated or unmaintained anyway). The road takes a big swing to the right to cross a narrow bridge, then more gradually curves left, taking a southeasterly course about 0.8 more miles to an abruptly uphill left turn. There are no others like it nearby... you will know it when you see it. Gear down and creep up the hill, and about 100 yards at the top of the rise, try to find a place to park without taking up the whole area. It can be a challenge.