Sheep Lake (Chinook Pass)


Backpack - Sheep Lake (Chinook Pass)

Camp beside a beautiful alpine lake, Sheep Lake, near Mt. Rainier, with an easy optional day hike to Sourdough Gap and and an overlook of Upper Crystal Lake, providing us spectacular views up and down the Cascades and toward Mt. Rainier.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Easy
  • Easy
  • Mileage: 2.4 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 400 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 6,400 ft
  • Pace: 2.0 mph

Meet at 8 AM at the PCT trailhead in the parking lot east of Chinook Pass on the left side of the road.  If the parking lot is full, park along SR 410 on the north side of the road.  It has a wide shoulder.  Each parked car must display a Northwest Forest Pass or National Park Pass.  There are four restrooms by the parking lot.  

The backpack to Sheep Lake is 1.2 miles, one way, and 400 feet gain.  The optional day hike from Sheep Lake to Sourdough Gap and the Crystal Lake overlook is an additional 3 miles RT and 600 feet gain.  So the total distance and gain of the backpack and day hike  are 1000 feet and 5.4 miles RT.

The day hike from Sheep Lake to Sourdough Gap is through beautiful alpine meadows, with increasingly impressive views as we progress.

The only restrooms on this trip are at the trailhead.  We will have our Saturday trail lunch at Sheep Lake, either before or after the day hike, depending on when we start the day hike.  The forest and land contours there provide privacy for bathroom breaks.  Water can be filtered from the outflow stream from Sheep Lake.  There is no water source along the day hike route.

On Saturday afternoon there will be an opportunity to swim in the warm water of Sheep Lake, if the weather permits.  Following the swim, we will have a camp dinner, followed by evening conversation before bedtime.  Campfires are not permitted at Sheep Lake.  

Sunday morning we will have a camp breakfast and then pack up camp for the hike back to the cars.  There will be the option on the drive home for a group  lunch stop in either Greenwater or Enumclaw, depending on the covid 19 situation at the time.  Outdoor seating is available in Greenwater. 

This trip provides an opportunity for a relaxing weekend in the midst of nature's  splendor.  It is a good trip for beginning backpackers. 


Sheep Lake (Chinook Pass)

  • Trails Illustrated Mount Rainier National Park

    Green Trails Mt Rainier East No. 270

    Green Trails Mount Rainier Wonderland No. 269SX
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
Trip Reports