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Lanham Lake Snowshoe

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This narrow forest trail climbs gently alongside a gurgling ice-rimmed creek and leads to a picturesque alpine lake. The trail is often attempted by cross-country skiers, but the narrow path and thick forest often send them packing before they complete the first mile, so a high degree of quiet solitude can be found at this lake despite the shortness of the access trail. The lake is ringed with snow-laden trees, but some nice views of the jagged top of Jim Hill Mountain appear to the south. The lake is also an ideal destination for novice winter campers--not too far to snowshoe but far enough to get into a true wilderness setting. The thick old growth around the lake provides plenty of shelter for a snug winter camp.

The Lanham Lake Trail starts about 10 yards up Mill Creek Road--one of the ski area's groomed trails, so snowshoe along the uphill edge of this groomed track to avoid incurring the wrath of skiers on your way to the trailhead. Bear left into the trees at the well-marked start of the Lanham Lake Trail.

This narrow hikers' trail follows the west bank of Lanham Creek as it climbs the gentle valley to its headwaters in the lake. About 0.25 mile up, the trail crosses a clearing, passes under high-tension powerlines--these carry the juice that keeps Puget Sounders out of the dark--and crosses a groomed ski trail (part of the commercial operation).

Try to ignore the buzzing electrical lines and the unnaturally flat track left by the groomer. The trail leaves both behind quickly as it continues the steady climb up the creek valley. About a mile up the trail, the valley narrows considerably. The trail is now close to the creek, and footing is sometimes slick where the trail enters a brief, steep pitch for a couple hundred yards.

The last 0.5 mile is only moderately steep as the valley widens again and finally opens into a deep bowl cradling the lake. If you are the adventurous type, trek up the slope on the far (south) side of the lake to explore the flanks of Jim Hill Mountain, but if avalanche danger is moderate or higher, skip this added adventure and stick to the lake basin for any extra exploration.

Author’s Rating: More Difficult
Some previous snowshoe experience helpful. Some winter survival skills recommended (basic knowledge of avalanche evaluation, emergency shelter construction, etc.). Elevation gain is usually less than 1000 feet with a gradual slope.
Driving Directions:

To get there, drive east on U.S. Highway 2 to the summit of Stevens Pass and continue another 6 miles east to the Mill Creek exit. Turn right onto Mill Creek Road, and drive a few hundred feet to park in the Mill Creek Sno-Park (the lower lot). The lot nearest the buildings is provided for the commercial Nordic ski facilities run by the Stevens Pass Ski Area. To avoid conflicts, avoid snowshoeing on the groomed trails wherever possible.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 32 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Lanham Lake Snowshoe — Feb 08, 2014 — trailmama
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Parked at the Stevens Pass Nordic Center and followed the well-marked trail up along Lanham Creek......
Parked at the Stevens Pass Nordic Center and followed the well-marked trail up along Lanham Creek...most of the route is a well-packed down track from snowshoers and skiers. Even on a Saturday there were very few people on the trail. The lake was beautiful...frozen solid...enjoyed a hot lunch on the shore with our Jetboil. My son strapped on his snowboard to ride down through the trees (he was back at the parking lot in 15 minutes). I hiked back down enjoying the beautiful snow-covered trees, sunshine and blue skies.

Good snowshoe for a reasonably fit person new to snowshoeing.
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Lanham Lake Snowshoe — Feb 07, 2014 — thebrink
Snowshoe/XC Ski
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It was nine degrees when we departed the trailhead for the lake. Lanham Creek near the trailhead is ...
It was nine degrees when we departed the trailhead for the lake. Lanham Creek near the trailhead is nearly completely frozen over, something I have not seen on previous snowshoe trips in the area. We followed a cross country skier's track much of the way up as the skier had used the trail most of the way. We were the only ones on the trail for the day.

There was a dusting of snow from the previous night on top of about two feet or more of the snow base. Most of the trail is pretty well packed down but the snow on the hill that passes under the power lines is soft enough to sink into eve with snowshoes. The lake is frozen over and Jim Hill has a nice cover of snow to the south above the lake.
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Lanham Lake Snowshoe — Jan 25, 2014 — KenWP
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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We arrived at the trailhead at around 9:45; temperature was a crisp 19 degrees. Many cars were there...
We arrived at the trailhead at around 9:45; temperature was a crisp 19 degrees. Many cars were there for the Nordic Center and only a few folks seemed to be heading up to the lake.

With the lack of fresh snow, we knew to expect a solid crust, so we left our snowshoes in the car and put on our Microspikes.

The trail is in good shape; firm and icy, and would be difficult without at least poles. The temperature climbed into the mid-30's as we reached the lake and as the sun appeared at about 11:30, the temperature climbed into the 40's

We had our lunch and I took some photos from the middle of the lake; it's frozen over with several feet of snow.

This is a great introductory snowshoe trail, perfect for first-time snowshoers who are up for a workout -- there are some steep parts to get the heart pumping. And it's a lot cheaper than buying the pass to use the Nordic Center trails. Those are excellent trails, too, and that's where I did my first snowshoeing years back.

I expect the conditions to change quite a bit with the upcoming week's snowfall in the forecast. It would be great to return to fresh powder and put the snowshoes to use.

Note there is often some confusion about whether dogs are allowed. They ARE allowed on this trail, as it's not part of the dog-restricted Stevens Pass Nordic Center trails. Just head to the left as you walk up and out of the parking lot; after a few hundred feet you'll see a rope that marks the boundary with a sign that says Lanham Lake. Go under the rope and continue up along the creek.
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Lanham Lake Snowshoe — Jan 20, 2014 — Nicholas Swenson
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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First trip up to Lanham Lake. Started at the trailhead at 12:30pm and reached the lake around 2:30....
First trip up to Lanham Lake. Started at the trailhead at 12:30pm and reached the lake around 2:30. Packed snow on a well-defined trail. Snowshoes were almost overkill but the trail was steep and they did help with traction. Saw a few other groups along the way but the trail was quite peaceful throughout the day. Returned to the parking area around 4:00pm.

Enjoyed lunch by the lake as the sun went down over a ridge. The lake was frozen with fresh snowshoe tracks across it, but I didn't feel inclined to try my luck on such a sunny, warm day. No spectacular views along this trail, just beautiful forests and a quiet alpine lake to take in.

Be advised that the Lanham Lake trail is entirely separate from the Nordic Ski Club, and is free to use. We almost ended up paying the snowshoe fee for their groomed trails.
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Lanham Lake Snowshoe — Jan 18, 2014 — Zlatkovsky
Day hike
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A nice short snowshoeing hike, and a perfect way to test our our new MSR Lightning Axis 22 Snowshoes...
A nice short snowshoeing hike, and a perfect way to test our our new MSR Lightning Axis 22 Snowshoes -- which performed beautifully. There was at least 1.5 feet of snow on the trail, hard-packed and not too icy.

We headed from the parking lot next to Stevens' Pass Nordic Center at 4pm, making it to the snow-covered lake right as stars were coming out, and the outline of the mountain on the other side of the lake was lit up with the last colors of dusk. On the way back, took our our headlamps and hiked back down. We came across one other group who had started an hour or two later and were doing this as a full night hike -- but I'm glad we got to have some light on the way up, it gave us more variety.

Overall, a pleasant simple trip and beautiful stars.
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lanham lake sadies driver.jpg
Lanham Lake. Photo by Sadie's Driver.
Location
Lanham Lake (#1589)
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East
Wenatchee National Forest, Lake Wenatchee Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain 1100 ft
Highest Point 4100 ft
Features
Lakes
Fall foliage
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails: Benchmark Mountain No. 144

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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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