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Eagle Lakes

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Hike to a pair of splendid lakes nestled high on the Sawtooth Ridge. Lower Eagle is perched in a peaceful grove of pines, while Upper Eagle sits in a lofty cirque flanked by spiraling crags and ribbons of larch. The trail is fairly easy, the grade never steep. It travels through big ponderosa and sweet-scented sage to glistening granite ledges, granting extensive views of nearby rock and distant hazy hills. Hot in the height of summer, this hike is a delight in early season when patches of snow prohibit wheels, or in early autumn when cool air blows down from the passes and the majestic larches turn the Eagles golden.

Eagle Lakes Trail No. 431 begins in forest thinned by past logging, but a few large ponderosa pines still grace the way. The trail is hot and dusty. Motorcycles have rutted and gutted the tread.

After a short climb, the trail comes to a ledge granting good views of the Crater and Martin creek drainages. It's then a slow descent back into forest and shade, much appreciated on a hot summer's day. In 0.7 mile come to a junction just after crossing Crater Creek. The trail right climbs steeply to the Crater Lakes. Go left instead.

A short distance farther, ignore a side trail branching left. Through open lodgepole pine forest begin a steady climb. At 2.3 miles come to a junction with the Martin Creek Trail (elev. 5700 ft). Worthy destinations lie along this trail: Martin Lakes in 4.5 miles, Cooney Lake in 6.5 miles. Save them for another hike, preferably an autumn backpacking trip.

Continue right. As you ascend the forest thins, offering views out over Gold Creek basin and up toward the Sawtooth crest. Traverse grassy meadows, granite outcroppings, and sunny slopes flush in fragrant sage. At 4.5 miles (elev. 6700 ft) an obvious but unmaintained trail leaves left, dropping 200 feet to the forest-ringed Lower Eagle Lake.

Stay on the main trail for the upper lake. The climb eases. Now skirting a series of ledges, be sure to occasionally pause for the fine views of the lower lake twinkling below. At 5.5 miles (elev. 7050 ft) turn right onto a quiet side path. Motorcycles are barred on this short spur. Notice the soft delicate tread padded in larch needles, a far cry from the torn turf of the thoroughfare you left behind.

Pass a shallow tarn enveloped in showy larches. A half mile farther, arrive at Upper Eagle Lake (elev. 7110 ft). Cupped in a craggy, talus-laden cirque beneath 8135-foot Mount Bigelow, the lake sits in quite a dramatic setting. Find a spot along the shore to rest while the resident chickadees, chickarees, nuthatches, and nutcrackers serenade you.
Driving Directions:

From Twisp drive State Route 20 east for 2 miles. Continue south on SR 153 for 12 miles. At milepost 19 turn right onto Gold Creek Loop Road and drive 1.5 miles to a T intersection. Turn left onto County Road 1034, signed for Foggy Dew Campground. (From Pateros follow SR 153 north for 17 miles. Turn left onto Gold Creek Loop Road and drive 1 mile, turning left onto County Road 1034.) In 1 mile come to a junction and continue straight onto Forest Road 4340. The pavement ends at 4 miles (bear right), and at 5.4 miles reach an intersection. Turn left onto FR Spur 300 and follow this rough-at-times road 4.6 miles to a large trailhead parking area (elev. 4700 ft).

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 19 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Eagle Lakes #431 — Jul 04, 2008 — Christian Silk
Day hike
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We headed east for the 4th of July weekend to try to find a high country route that was snow free. A...

We headed east for the 4th of July weekend to try to find a high country route that was snow free. And the Golden Lakes loop was a perfect choice. We didn't end up doing the whole loop, but the portions that we did do were pretty much completely snow free.

The trail from the parking lot to the Upper Eagle Lake junction was clear and dry (no snow or down trees). The trail up to Upper Eagle Lake was a little bit muddy at some points, but totally doable. There were patches of snow on the north and west ends of the lake in the talus fields, but all of the campsites were dry.

We spent Friday and Saturday night at Upper Eagle Lake and just day hiked over Horsehead Pass towards Boiling Lake. Horsehead Pass had one tiny patch of snow on the trail that was about 1ft wide. The rest of the trail to Boiling Lake and the area around Boiling lake were completely snow free. From what we could see Hoodoo Pass was also clear and the rest of the Golden Lakes Loop trail was clear as well, although there may still be snow on the pass to get back over to Cooney Lake. We didn't make it that far so I am not sure.

This is a multi-use trail and we did encounter motor bikes and horses. We probably saw about 4-5 motor bikes on our way in and out of Upper Eagle Lake. All of them were courteous and not driving really fast or anything.

This is a great route for this season with all of the snow that is making many other routes impassable. Upper Eagle Lake was a beautiful, rocky alpine lake with good fishing. Boiling lake looked nice, but a little muddy.

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Eagle Lakes #431,Boiling Lake #431 — Sep 04, 2006 — Hoofr
Day hike
Issues: Bugs
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Trip Date: Labor Day Weekend 2006 Sept 2nd - 4th Destination: Crater Lake Trail head to Eagle lake...

Trip Date: Labor Day Weekend 2006 Sept 2nd - 4th

Destination: Crater Lake Trail head to Eagle lake, over Horsehead pass to Boiling Lake, north on Chelan Summit trail about 2 miles. 22 miles total +\-

Road Conditions: Dirt roads are passable easily by family car, looks like the road is well maintained.

Water: There was plenty of water.

Bugs: There were little biting flies at lower Eagle lake. Not the normal flies that I have seen hiking before. They were the size of large fruit flies. They were grey-ish with little black/white like stripes. They were slow, easy to swat. When they bit and finished, they would leave *huge* bite marks that dripped blood. The bites didn’t itch until after I came home 3 days later, and they itched bad. I have been hiking a few times in my life and I have never seen these critters before. There were millions of them at the lake, but they don’t swarm like mosquito’s so you don’t feel inundated by them. I thought they were kind of cute, until I got home and started to itch – 3 days later - beware.

Trail Condition: The trail was dusty – what trail isn’t dusty this time of year? I saw 3 groups of motorcycles and 3 or 4 groups of mountain bikes. No horses or Llama’s. Very little horse manure on the trail, what I did see was being eaten by Dear. None of the ORV or Horse’s/Llama’s *ruined* my weekend. It is amaizing that the motorcycles can make it up the trail to Horsehead pass at all, its not a place where you see 12 year old girls putting along on a Yz80. Experienced riders only.

I would highly recommend this trip, despite the bad press it receives for being open to horses and motorcycles. The Golden Lakes cirque is about 23 miles I think, or at least that far if you go up and adventure around. Plan on 3 days minimum, I could have stayed 5 days and found plenty to do.

Campsites. Lower Eagle really doesn’t have much at all, the lake is very disappointing compared to upper Eagle. But, Upper Eagle is where everyone camps, be prepared for company. Boiling Lake is wide open, there is a big horse area, not sure where backpackers would stay. I stayed at lower Eagle, had the place to myself, water was good. I saw bear tracks at lower Eagle.

Larch Trees. There are Larch trees all over the place.

Trail Notes. (1) The cut off to Martin Lake on the topo maps looks like it is on the corner of a switch back, it is not, it is about ¼ mile before the switchback. You would want to know this if you are coming down the trail and expect to find the trail on the switch back. (2) The Topo maps suggest that the trail levels out, even drops a little, for the last ¼ to ½ mile before reaching lower Eagle lake traveling up – it does not, it is all up hill, not super steep, but it is all up. (3) When you are at Horsehead pass you can see a trail that goes over the little mini pass to your left. If you want to head south towards Cooney lake, this short cut might add a little (only a little) elevation gain, but I think it cuts at least 1 mile off the journey 1 way, 2 miles round trip minimum. There are trails down the other side of this mini pass. (4) The trail that leaves Boiling Lake heading west goes for ½ mile or so, dropping several hundred feet before cutting south. What is disturbing about this is that at Boiling Lake there is only a sign that says this way to Cub Lake. Hate to travel that far (and down) wondering if you are on the right trail. Eventually you come to a 5 way intersection.

I have pictures, and usually within a couple weeks of the trip date video of my trip posted on my web site. I have other backpacking destinations posted as well.

Go to the Menu upper left and look under Backpacking for Eagle/Boiling 2006

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Eagle Lakes #431,Boiling Lake #431,Mt Bigelow,Cooney Lake #429 — Aug 25, 2006 — achyknees
Day hike
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Three of us set out for a three day loop trip along the Golden Lakes Loop. The trail was very dusty ...

Three of us set out for a three day loop trip along the Golden Lakes Loop. The trail was very dusty and try courtesy of horses and bikes. The sky was a rust color due to fires to the north. The trail climbs gently for miles through forest, with occasional views of the valleys and nearby peaks. After a couple hours the smoke lowered and filled the valley, greatly limiting visibility, making for bad conditions. We considered turning back but being close to Boiling Lake we continued on. The trails climbs over the pass, revealing Boiling Lake below. The descent to the lake is easy but unnecessarily long to make it easier for horses. At the lake itself the air was a bit more clear, and there were no other campers at the lake. Many campsites but all are somewhat dirty from the horses. A few mosquitos but nothing too bad. Many larches at both lakes, but they hadn't started to turn yet.

The next day was much more fresh and clear. Two of us headed back up the pass and up the south slope of Mt Bigelow. After a mile walking along or just below (to the west side) of the ridge the summit was achieved, great views. The register indicated that visitors are not too common. We dropped down via the west ridge meeting up with trail 1259 for a fine walk through the valley, no people, many marmots. Breaking camp we headed over the 7500 ft saddle south of Boiling Lake going towards Cooney. Fine views about everywhere. There was a corral of horses near the path, but no people when we passed by. Views improve as one climbs the pass to climb back to the east side of the ridge, with the trail maxing out at 8000' or so. A quick boulder hop yields point 8321, time constraints prevented a summit of Martin though it doesn't look hard from this side at least.

The camp at Cooney was scenic, though the shoreline is severely damaged from horse camps. Despite the ample evidence of motorbikes and horses, none were seen the entire first or second day. A couple hikers and five mountain bikes were the only people seen the third day.

Beautiful country, the only drawback was the smoke and dust. A trip in late spring would be best for this destination.

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Eagle Lakes #431 — Sep 16, 2002 — camper#1
Day hike
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Just returned from a week of great weather, and company, at Upper Eagle Lake in the Chelan Sawtooth...

Just returned from a week of great weather, and company, at Upper Eagle Lake in the Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness.This route is multi-use and allows dirt bikes on it.( What is the USFS thinking?)We saw 5 bikes leave the TH but never saw another bike.The trail is easy traveling,but dusty, thanks to horses and bikes. Upper Eagle Lake is a beautiful place with lots of fish and views up to Mt. Bigelow. We had Bears in the area and my dog (Marley Bob) and I had a close encounter with one. The lake was all ours except for one night. We had a party of two males and one female camp nearby. Being good neighbors we informed them about the bears. So what does this group of morons do? Leave garbage in the fire pit that attracted the bears into the area within an hour after their departure! The poetic justice here is that one of them left their fishing gear behind! Thanks for the stuff! I guess just because you own a back-pack does'nt make you a considerate person or ANY kind or an environmentalist. I hope their trip to Cub Lake and on to Lake Chelan was miserable. Don't let the multi use trail keep you away,this is a beautiful place! One other thing to keep in mind is that the mileage and elevation gain in the 100 hikes book is incorrect as both is less. The usfs also has incorrectly posted mileage on the trail signs.

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Eagle Lakes #431 — Jul 15, 2002 — Switchback Sassafras
Day hike
Issues: Mudholes | Bugs
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The trail is clear of trees and snow all the way to Upper Eagle Lake. The fish don't seem to be int...

The trail is clear of trees and snow all the way to Upper Eagle Lake. The fish don't seem to be interested in anything...perhaps they are spawning....? The bugs are healthy and the scenery is GREAT!!! There is no snow on the trail up over Horsehead Pass and down into Boiling Lake. Watch for dirt bikes and horses on trail.

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Upper Eagle Lake Hoofr.jpg
Upper Eagle Lake and Boiling Lake. Photo by Hoofr
WTA worked here!
Eagle Lakes (#431)
North Cascades -- East Slope
Okanogan National Forest - Methow Valley Ranger District
Roundtrip 12.0 miles
Elevation Gain 2480 ft
Highest Point 7110 ft
Fall foliage
Mountain views
User info
May encounter mountains bikes
May encounter motorized vehicles
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Prince Creek No. 115

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