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Lake Ingalls

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Sometimes you just want to get high--physically, not psychedelically--and the Lake Ingalls Trail lets you do that while still exploring some of the grandest wildflower displays in the Cascades. You'll climb, descend, and climb again, crossing through no less than three distinct ecosystem types, each with its own species of wildflowers to entice and enchant you.

As with the Longs Pass Trail you'll start out on the old miners road leading up the Teanaway Valley. Within the first 0.25 mile the wide roadbed fades to a true trail. It also splits, the path to the left heading to Esmeralda Basin and Fortune Creek Pass.

Go right to start your climb out of the Teanaway Valley. You'll be hiking through the first flora stratum you'll encounter on this hike, with huckleberry bushes, a few lilies, and other lesser known flowers, such as pipsissewa and wintergreens.

At 2 miles go left at another trail junction (right leads to Longs Pass). The trail angles upward, climbing steadily and at times steeply. As you near Ingalls Pass the trail meanders through a rock-strewn meadowland. Along the long, slow climb to the pass you'll enter a drier ecosystem full of alpine firs. Bitterroot, white paintbrush, penstemon, and spreading stonecrop (a pretty little succulent plant) grow in profusion.

The final 0.3 mile switchbacks up to Ingalls Pass, about 3 miles from the trailhead. Here you'll enjoy spectacular views of Ingalls Peak across the Ingalls Creek valley in front of you, and Esmeralda Peaks across the Teanaway River valley behind you.

The trail now descends briefly before contouring around the upper flank of Headlight Basin. As you crest the pass and descend into the rocky basin, you'll enter rich heather meadows filled with bistort, paintbrush, and--in one spring-fed ravine--a 10-acre spread of shooting stars. This lush valley sports many fine campsites alongside small tarns and creeks in the open heather and flower fields. Of course, an abundance of rich foliage and plenty of water means birds and animals frequent this basin. Move silently and watch carefully for the best chances to see deer, mountain goats, marmots, coyotes, and countless bird species.

After gawking, pop your eyes back into your head and push on--the next mile swings around the upper edge of the basin, crossing a few creeks and weaving around some nice ponds. As you leave the flowers you'll traverse a broad granite slope and climb up and over a tangle of granite slabs and boulders before dropping to rock-rimmed Lake Ingalls. Views are hard to come by here--rock hard, that is.

Swing out to the left as you reach the lake and drop down to rest on the long rock slabs that taper down into the water. From here, look across the mirror-finish lake to the magnificent face of mighty Mount Stuart to the north, while the craggy top of Ingalls Peak towers directly over the lake on the west.
Driving Directions:

From Seattle drive east on I-90 to East Cle Elum, exit 85. Cross over the freeway overpass and turn right (northbound) on State Route 970. Cross the Teanaway River bridge, and in another mile turn left onto Teanaway Road. Drive north on Teanaway Road, veering right as it becomes first the North Fork Teanaway Road and then unpaved Forest Road 9737 at 29 Pines Campground. Continue to the road's end.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 311 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Lake Ingalls — Nov 23, 2013 — Tired Feet
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail | Avalanche danger | Road to trailhead inaccessible
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This was probably the last time this year that my car will be able to get to this trailhead.....and ...
This was probably the last time this year that my car will be able to get to this trailhead.....and we almost didn't make it out. Snow the last 5 miles to the parking lot, bottomed out on ice multiple times in a Subaru Impreza (bummer only 5 inches of clearance). Our elation at having arrived finally at the parking lot was quashed by immediately getting poor old Brutus stuck in deep snow....however after an hour of digging gravel to place under the tires (and reusable shopping bags make great traction devices) we did finally get him turned around and back on the road. Figuring no one else would be so foolish as to come up there we left him in the road and went snowshoeing for 4 fabulous hours. About 1-2 feet of snow up high, crusty on top and getting soft as the afternoon wore on. The weather was beautiful, the mountains were out and views were fantastic. Lost the trail, ran out of time and headed for a ridge somewhere between Ingalls Pass and Longs Pass, didn't make it all the way to the top as it became quite steep and somewhat slippery but we had a great time anyway and the views more than made up for the fog we experienced at Lake Valhalla on Veterans day. We wouldn't have considered this later in the year with more snow due to it being prime avalanche territory but there wasn't enough snow yet to create avalanche conditions. Unfortunately saw no goats :-(
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Lake Ingalls — Nov 10, 2013 — Gr8Scot
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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Needed to get out so decided to see how far I could get up to Ingalls Pass. Also wanted to try out ...
Needed to get out so decided to see how far I could get up to Ingalls Pass. Also wanted to try out the new snow shoes.

Road was passable, but you would need a little more clearance than a sedan. Snow covers the road at about 5.5 miles before the trail-head. Snow on the road got progressively deeper until it was approx. 5 inches at the trail-head. Not too slippery but wouldn't want to use bald tires. Also, if it freezes it would be ugly. I had no problems with a Subaru Forester.

Only made it about 2 miles up the trail because of the late start we got. Great conditions for snow shoeing. But did hear what I thought was an avalanche off in the distance. Snow condition was wet and heavy.

We were the only ones there and it sure was beautiful. The clouds hid the peaks mostly. I bet Sunday (the 11th) was awesome up there. Since I went hiking on Sunday too, I wasn't able to post until now.

Next big snow should block the road unless we get a Pineapple Express.


(Second try at posting but with photos....maybe)
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Lake Ingalls — Nov 10, 2013 — Gr8Scot
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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Needed to get out so decided to see how far I could get up to Ingalls Pass. Also wanted to try out ...
Needed to get out so decided to see how far I could get up to Ingalls Pass. Also wanted to try out the new snow shoes.

Road was passable, but you would need a little more clearance than a sedan. Snow covers the road at about 5.5 miles before the trail-head. Snow on the road got progressively deeper until it was approx. 5 inches at the trail-head. Not too slippery but wouldn't want to use bald tires. Also, if it freezes it would be ugly. I had no problems with a Subaru Forester.

Only made it about 2 miles up the trail because of the late start we got. Great conditions for snow shoeing. But did hear what I thought was an avalanche off in the distance. Snow condition was wet and heavy.

We were the only ones there and it sure was beautiful. The clouds hid the peaks mostly. I bet Sunday (the 11th) was awesome up there. Since I went hiking on Sunday too, I wasn't able to post until now.

Next big snow should block the road unless we get a Pineapple Express.
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Lake Ingalls — Oct 26, 2013 — NothWestTrekker
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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I took the solitary backpack trip to Lake Ingalls with 25 pounds load. I arrived there by 8:30am, te...
I took the solitary backpack trip to Lake Ingalls with 25 pounds load. I arrived there by 8:30am, temperature is about 35F, and just saw few cars in the parking lot.

The weather today is gorgeous - sunny, clear blue Falls sky. I felt little chilly in the first 30 minutes. It took me 1.5 hours to the camping site/pass. Then I followed the footprints to the bottom hill in the snow. The snow is hard early morning, but still manageable. I didn't bring any traction devices, so I used my trekker poles (this is the first time I use this year!), which made the walking easier. I took the mittens today, which are also helpful to hold the boulders to forward.

It total took me about 1 hours to be the lake. I really enjoyed the lake - eat lunch there, and enjoyed photographing.

The snow become soft afternoon on the way back - I saw lots of people either walk all the way to the lake, or enjoyed lunch on the pass area.

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Lake Ingalls — Oct 26, 2013 — goodytwopoles
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Bring your MicroSpikes! Today was gorgeous! We knew there was snow on the other side of Ingalls Pass...
Bring your MicroSpikes! Today was gorgeous! We knew there was snow on the other side of Ingalls Pass where the trail skirts the edge of Headlight Basin....but we failed to bring traction devices and discovered it was very icy for at least 1/4 mile or so. We weren't up for a slippery/scary traverse, so we ate lunch in the sun on the rocks at Ingalls Pass, turned around and then kipped up to Longs Pass on our way back down. Back at the trailhead we re-encountered a woman we'd spoken to briefly at the pass; she had spikes and said she'd made it up to the lake without difficulty, though it took her longer than she'd expected so she couldn't linger at the lake.
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Lake Ingalls.jpg
Autumn at Lake Ingalls. Photo by Don Geyer.
Location
Ingalls Way (#1390)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Cle Elum Ranger District (509) 852-1100
Statistics
Roundtrip 9.0 miles
Elevation Gain 2500 ft
Highest Point 6500 ft
Features
Lakes
Waterfalls
Fall foliage
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Wildlife
Ridges/passes
Established campsites
User info
Dogs not allowed
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Mount Stuart No. 209

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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