Trap Lake, Tunnel Creek Trailhead, Seattle: Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass - Central Cascades, Washington

Trap Lake - 9.5 miles

Tunnel Creek Trailhead

Trap Lake from the PCT

Trap Lake from the PCT

Round-Trip Length: 9.5 miles
Start-End Elevation: 3,215' - 5,157' (5,318' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,942' net elevation gain (+2,871' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Trap Lake - 9.5 Miles Round-Trip

Trap Lake (5,517') is located 4.75 miles from Tunnel Creek Trailhead off the Pacific Crest Trail in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It lies in a steep-walled cirque just below Trap Pass at the head of Trapper Creek. 

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Tunnel Creek Trail climbs 1170' in 1.45 miles to reach the PCT at Hope Lake. The PCT turns south for 3.05 miles through intervals of forest, meadow and big open slopes to the unmarked spur down to Trap Lake.

The lake is confined on three sides by the cirque, but a small open area near the outlet offers plenty of space to camp and cast for Westslope Cutthroat Trout. Room to roam is otherwise limited, so multi-day backpackers may wish to spend just one night and press on to Surprise and Glacier lakes (west of Trap Pass) for more open settings.

Visitors will enjoy diverse terrain and compelling landscapes on the hike to Trap Lake. A recreation Pass is required to access the Tunnel Creek Trailhead:

The Tunnel Creek Trail heads SE on a steep, straightforward climb. Thimbleberries are abundant along the way, but watch for commingled devils club when picking. It hops a rocky ravine (.98 miles : 3,960') and steepens to the Wilderness Boundary just before reaching the PCT junction and Hope Lake (1.45 miles : 4,386').

Follow signs (south) on the PCT for Trap Pass. The PCT rises past Hope Lake on moderate switchbacks that open across a broad, brush and talus bowl (2.4 miles).

It arcs over the bowl with views, then dips and rises through intervals of berry-filled glades, swales and patchy forest (2.5 miles -  3.5 miles 5,070').  Serviceable campsites with varying degrees of water access and quality can be found on this segment.

The trail emerges from thin timber and cuts straight across steep, open slopes with terrific views of the Trapper Creek valley and surrounding peaks (3.7 miles : 5,170'). Summer flowers and autumn colors are exceptional on this .3 mile stretch.

The trail crosses a swale then steepens to an unmarked fork (4.5 miles : 5,305'). The left fork winds steeply down through dense forest to Trap Lake (4.75 miles : 5,157').

It's not a problem if you miss the fork, as the lake comes into view shortly past it and you'll know to backtrack. The spur twists down to the outlet and a small meadow with room for tents. You'll have to negotiate brush and talus to access more of the shore.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N47 42.770 W121 06.445 — 0.0 miles : Tunnel Creek Trailhead
  • N47 42.436 W121 06.158 — .5 miles : Steep climb along creek
  • N47 42.172 W121 05.857 — .98 miles : Cross rocky creek ravine
  • N47 41.936 W121 05.497 — 1.4 miles : Alpine Lakes Wilderness Boundary
  • N47 41.934 W121 05.460 — 1.45 miles : Hope Lake
  • N47 41.627 W121 05.356 — 2.0 miles : Moderate climb on PCT
  • N47 41.537 W121 05.642 — 2.5 miles : Steady climb on switchbacks
  • N47 41.294 W121 05.959 — 3.0 miles : Intervals of patchy forest
  • N47 41.114 W121 06.418 — 3.5 miles : Undulating travel into subalpine
  • N47 40.993 W121 07.030 — 4.0 miles : Cut across big open slopes
  • N47 40.688 W121 07.332 — 4.5 miles : Unmarked fork for Trap Lake
  • N47 40.559 W121 07.401 — 4.75 miles : Trap Lake

Worth Noting

  • Hope Lake was stocked with Eastern Brook Trout in 1937 and today supports a healthy, sustainable population. Mig Lake is stocked periodically with modest numbers of Rainbow Trout. 
  • Watch for bears in the open, food-rich slopes on the final approach to Trap Lake.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Camping Rules and Regulations

  • An overnight fee is required (see rules and regs).
  • Group size is limited to 12 individuals or any combination of people and stock.
  • Camp only in established sites. Some may be closed for restoration
  • Sites are first come, first served.
  • Campfires are prohibited at Hope Lake, Mig Lake and Trap Lake.
  • Bathe and wash dishes at least 150-200' from lakes and streams.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted in Hope Lake, Mig Lake and Trap Lake with a valid WA state fishing license.
  • Contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for specific guidelines.
  • wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/

Email: licensing@dfw.wa.gov
Sport | Commercial Licenses: 360.902.2434
Disability Licenses: 360.902.2460

Rules and Regulations

  • A valid Recreation Pass is required to access the Tunnel Creek Trailhead ($5 day use fee | overnight use requires payment for two days).
  • Dogs are permitted on the Tunnel Creek Trail and on the PCT to Trap Lake. Dogs must be leashed on the PCT south to Trap Lake and Kendall Catwalk.

Directions to Trailhead

The Tunnel Creek Trailhead is located 1.2 miles south of Highway 2 on Forest Service Road #6095 (on the west side of Stevens Pass, approximately 13.2 miles east of the Skykomish turnoff).

The turn from Highway 2 to FR 6095 is unlabeled and on a sharp hairpin - anticipate the turnoff. Keep left at two quick forks leading to the trailhead. Parking is limited. 

FR 6095 is a narrow gravel road with ruts and potholes. High clearance recommended.

Contact Information

Mt Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest | Skykomish Ranger District
74920 NE Stevens Pass Highway | PO Box 305
Skykomish, WA 98288
360.677.2414

Hours: Monday - Saturday
8a - 4:30p (Closed 12n - 12:30 + federal holidays)

Mt Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest | Supervisor's Office
2930 Wetmore Ave, Suite 3A
425.783.6000

Trip Reports

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