Total Ascent: 2700ft
Highest Point: 4900ft
Total Distance: 9.5 miles
Location: N 47° 39.4980, W 121° 8.5020
Required Permit: None
Over the years we’ve had a number of folks pointing us toward Surprise Lake for both summer and winter hiking. A few weeks ago we decided it was time to see if the hike could live up to the all the good reviews. Enough snow had fallen around Stevens Pass that we packed up our snowshoes and set out on what we thought might be our first snowshoe of the season.
We recommend this hike for anyone looking for an engaging hike throughout the year. It is a little long for more causal hikers, and the elevation gain is not insignificant, but most of the work is a short series of switchbacks at around the three mile mark. However, if you budget enough time, this hike should be attainable for almost every hiker. The lakes are more than worth the effort, and the hike even makes for a decent little backpacking weekend. While Surprise Lake is popular in the summer, few people make the trek in the winter, making this a good time to do some exploring and get the lakes all to yourself.
There's a lot more to Surprise and Glacier Lakes, and you can learn all about it in our book, Hiking Through History Washington. You'll find a trail map, route descriptions, history, and more for this and many more hikes throughout the State. Help support hikingwithmybrother.com and the work we do by picking up a copy!
To get there, take Highway 2 out past Skykomish toward Stevens Pass. Just past milepost 58, look for an unmarked road on your right just beyond the Iron Goat Interpretive Site. Turn onto the access road and follow it across the Tye River to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. Cross the tracks and head to the right paralleling the tracks for a short distance to a spur road heading into the trees. Follow this road a few tenths of a mile to the trailhead. -Nathan
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