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Trip Report    

Ingalls Lake

  • Tue, Oct 21, 2014
  • Lake Ingalls
  • Day Hiking

The forecast was for rain in the morning with with clearing skies and improving weather throughout the rest of the day, and that’s what we got. The rain stopped about 10 minutes after we arrived at the trailhead. We started hiking in rain gear but shed it after about 15 minutes. We ascended to Ingalls Pass through dramatic low clouds and occasional dense moody fog. The possibility of Vampires was discussed but none were spotted. As we arrived at Ingalls Pass the cloud layer started rising, and by the time we got to our lunch spot at Ingalls Lake the cloud layer had lifted back up to where clouds should be, though the very top of Mt. Stuart remained shy for another hour. The Larches were past peak but still very colorful and lovely. All in the party were pleased to be among them. Though we looked for them we saw no mountain goats all day.

Because of the recent rains many section of the trail were wet, but proved to be no problem. The critical rocky sections of the trail were dry, and traction with boots was good. We traversed up the slabs at the SW end of the lake and had lunch overlooking the lake and Mt. Stuart, the classic Lake Ingalls lunch/turnaround point.

We returned across the basin via alternate route 1390.2, which the group agreed was well worth the additional elevation. The hike back down to the trailhead was pleasant but uneventful. The sun was out in full force during the drive back out the USFS road. We arrived back at the Issaquah P&R at about 6:20, just shy of 12 hours after our departure.


The final quarter mile of the trail, starting approximately at the junction of 1390.1 and 1390.2 trails, is mostly on rock and with sections that require following cairns. The final section leading up to the lake is steep and has a few moves that require simple climbing using hands. The most difficult section, though short, was described by a scrambler in our group as being equivalent to a T2 scramble. We saw many casual hikers come through this section just fine, so it’s doable, but anyone expecting a traditional dirt path all the way to lake will be surprised.

On the way back from the lake our group elected to take alternate trail 1390.2 straight across the basin to to Ingalls Pass. This proved to be a beautiful stretch of trail across a few creeks and among the Larches that decorate the basin floor. Though shorter, this trail adds about 400’ loss/gain. It is highly recommended if the party can handle the additional elevation. The north end of Trail 1390.2 is clearly marked with a sign at its intersection with the main trail. The south end rejoins the main trail just behind the “Alpine Lakes Wilderness” sign at Ingalls Pass. When returning be careful not wander down to the left toward the Ingalls Creek drainage; your route home lies up and to the right. Trail 1390.2 does not appear in the 1997 revision of the Green Trails map but is present in the 2014 revision.

The final 10 miles of the road are unpaved with frequent rough sections and clusters of large potholes. A high clearance vehicles is recommend, though regular vehicles can make it too just more slowly.