Spider Gap, Lyman Lakes & Buck Creek Pass

This classic but very demanding loop of 44 miles and 4,800 feet of elevation gain is one of the best in the entire Glacier Peak Wilderness. Destinations include Spider Meadow, Spider Gap, Lyman Lakes, Cloudy Pass, Suiattle Pass, Image Lake, Miner's Ridge, Buck Creek Pass and 3.6 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. For a shorter, out-and-back trip, hike the 19.2 miles round trip to Buck Creek Pass. It's 3,000 feet of elevation gain gets you to camps with in-your-face views of Glacier Peak and ample opportunities to wander to Liberty Cap, Flower Dome, High Pass, and up to the flanks of Glacier Peak itself.

getting there

Drive US-2 to Coles Corner. Follow SR 207 north for 3.8 miles. Turn right on the Chiwawa Loop Road. Continue for a few miles looking for a signed left turn onto the Chiwawa River Road (Forest Road 62). Follow it for 22 miles and right turn onto Forest Road 6211,  Phelps Creek Road. Drive it 2.5 miles to a parking area at its end, the Phelps Creek Trailhead.   The road can be very rough—check before you try it with a low-clearnce vehicle.

on the trail

Spider Gap, Lyman Lakes & Buck Creek Pass Loop

44 miles loop, 4,800 feet of elevation gain, 7,100 ft high point, strenuous

Climb along Phelps Creek for 6.5 miles to the head of Spider Meadow.  Camps abound at the upper end of the meadow.  At 5,300 ft, turn and climb the Spider Glacier for approx 0.5 miles to Spider Gap (7,100 ft). Stop and enjoy the immense views across Lyman Lakes, down the Railroad Creek valley, and across to Bonanza Peak.

From Spider Gap, the Spider Glacier drops down steeply to the left and a scree field to the right.  The glacier is usually the best bet for descent, but check conditions before you go. An ice axe or at least microspikes and poles may be advisable, but through most of the summer one can plunge-step safely down the glacier and find the bootpath that drops 3.5 miles alongside the Lyman Glacier, past the upper Lyman Lakes to lower Lyman Lake.  Camps are excellent, though sometimes windy, along this section.

Turn left at Lower Lyman Lake onto the Trail No. 1256 and climb through wide open meadows for 1.8 miles to the knoll of Cloudy Pass.  A sketchy boulder field route continues 0.7 miles from Cloudy Pass  to forested Suiattle Pass where the route joins the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  In another 0.8 miles, at the junction with Trail No. 785, an excellent side trip beckons to Image Lake.  Walk 1.6 miles to a fork with Trail No. 795 and go right and uphill past Lady Camp 2.4 miles to Image Lake.  Camp here on the south shore, but don't miss the opportunity to walk the loop trail to the north side of the lake and catch the iconic view south across the lake to Glacier Peak at sunset.

From Image Lake, head back the way you came, 4 miles, to the junction with the PCT.  Turn right and descend steeply for 2.8 miles past a crossing of Miner's Creek  and climbing back to a "T" at 4,600 ft.    Turn left here, onto Trail No. 789. Continue to climb the forested slope for 5 miles to Buck Creek Pass (5,900 ft).    From here, ramble straight south to camps and immense views from Liberty Cap (6,400 ft).  Or, if the trailhead calls, follow the Buck Creek Trail, No. 1513, southeast for 9.6 miles to the Trinity Road end and your shuttle vehicle.

Alternate Route: At the outlet of Lower Lyman Lake, meet the Railroad Creek Trail.  Turn right here and descend along Railroad Creek for 8.1 miles to Holden Campground, then 11.2 miles to the Lucerne boat dock on Lake Chelan.   Check the schedule for the bus that sometimes travels between Holden and Lucerne.   It is possible to pick up the Lady of the Lake boat here once a day to go uplake to Stehekin or downlake  to Chelan.

Buck Creek Pass

19.2 miles round trip, 3,000 feet of elevation gain, 5,950 ft high point, strenuous

From Trinity Trailhead, walk a short ways on closed road and then on trail got 1.4 miles gently climbing to the junction of the Massie Lake/Chiwawa Trail, No. 1500.  Stay left for about another 1.5 miles following the Chiwawa River to a crossing with a bridge that blew out in early 2017—logs allow a fairly trouble-free crossing.  Continue along Buck Creek on a gradually then steeply increasing grade with views expanding on both sides. Reach Buck Creek Pass at mile 9.6, with staggering views of Glacier Peak just to the northwest.  There are plenty of camps at the pass, so you can set up camp here as a base for further exploration.  Options from here include  Helmet Butte just to the north, Flower Dome to the northwest, and Liberty Cap and High Pass to the south.  If time allows, take the unmaintained Trail No. 792 west from the pass to the headwaters of Triad Creek and a stopping point at 5,700 ft on the moraine below Chocolate Glacier on Glacier Peak.  Flower fields and berry picking abound here depending on the season.

Spider Gap

15.0 miles round trip with 3,600 feet of elevation gain

Strong day hikers can hike all the way to and from Spider Gap. Enjoy views down to Lyman Lakes and the remains of the Lyman Glacier. Spider Gap ~2 miles and 1,700 feet of elevation gain from Spider Meadow. There is a permanent snowfield just before Spider Gap, the remains of the Spider Glacier, for which microspikes and trekking poles may come in handy. There is also a short, easy, non-exposed scramble over some rocks near the gap.


Spider Gap, Lyman Lakes & Buck Creek Pass Loop

  • Suiattle Pass to Image Lake Trail, No. 785 junction: 0.8 miles
  • Trail No. 785 junction to Trail No. 789 junction:   2.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 44.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 4,800 ft
  • 7,100 ft
  • Green Trails Holden No. 113
  • Trails Illustrated Glacier Peak Wilderness

Upcoming Activities

CHS 2 Hike - Phelps Creek to Spider Gap

Day Hiking Field trip: Conditioning Hiking Series
A North Cascades classic! Starting from the Phelps Creek TH, we'll hike to picturesque Spider
Difficulty: Strenuous
Sat, Aug 28, 2021
No Prerequisites
7 participants
Registration opens Jul 21
Seattle Branch
Trip Reports

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Spider Gap, Lyman Lakes & Buck Creek Pass Loop
  • Lyman Lakes via Spider Gap
  • Spider Gap & Lyman Lakes
  • Spider Gap
  • Phelps Creek to Spider Gap
  • Buck Creek Pass

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