CHS 2 Hike - Surprise Mountain

Field trip: Conditioning Hiking Series

CHS 2 Hike - Surprise Mountain

Starting near Stevens Pass, we'll hike along Surprise Creek to the lovely duo of Glacier & Surprise Lakes, then join the Pacific Crest Trail to Surprise Gap and the summit of Surprise Mountain with far-reaching views. CHS hike led at a CHS 2 pace (2.0-3.0 mph).

  • Strenuous/Very Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 15.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 4,000 ft
  • Pace: 2.0-3.0 mph

We will meet at the Surprise Lake Trail Head at 8 am. Surprise Creek Trail #1060. You will need a Northwest Forest Pass.  Surprise Mountain is a 6,330-foot mountain summit located above the southern end of Glacier Lake and Surprise Lake.


skykomish washington weather - Bing

DIRECTIONS: Drive US-2 to Scenic, 10 miles east of Skykomish. Turn south into Scenic, cross the railroad tracks, turn right and follow the gravel road 0.3 mile to the Surprise Lake trailhead (2,200 ft).

This is one of my favorite hikes. It has so much variety and beauty. Surprise Mountain is an alpine peak nestled in the middle of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Washington State.  Glacier Lake and Surprise Lake are located northeast of the mountain. Views of surrounding peaks and valleys from the mountain are also far-reaching, including Mount Daniel and Glacier Peak. Surprise Mountain is located southeast of Spark Plug Mountain and southwest of Thunder Mountain.

In 1932, the U.S. Forest Service built a L-4 cab fire lookout on the summit of Surprise Mountain, due to its wide views of the Central Cascade Mountains. The U.S. Forest Service then decommissioned and destroyed the fire lookout during the 1950s. The only remnant of the lookout that remains today is a tall metallic pole at the mountain summit.

One of the most well-known and interesting features of Surprise Mountain is Surprise Gap, a small saddle connecting Surprise Mountain (on the west side of the saddle) to a taller, unnamed peak (on the east side of the saddle). From Surprise Gap, trails can lead north (to the gully located east of Surprise Mountain, leading towards Glacier Lake), south (to Deception Lakes), east (to unnamed peak), and west (to Surprise Mountain summit).


Surprise Lake & Mountain

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Ten Essential Systems

  1. Navigation (map & compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)
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