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Marmot Lake

This challenging four-mile hike within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness starts at Deception Pass and heads north to Marmot Lake and Lake Clarice.
Driving Directions:

This trail is accessed via Deception Pass in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. From Skykomish, WA take US Highway 2 east to mile marker 56.6 between the town of Skykomish and Stevens Pass. Turn south onto Deception Creek Road (Forest Service Road #6088). Continue for one mile to the trailhead.

Hike 10.3 miles south on Deception Creek Trail #1059 to Deception Pass and the junction with Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000. Trail #1066 to Clarice Lake begins at this junction heading north.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 24 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Deception Pass, Marmot Lake, Jade Lake — Jul 19, 2013 — KenWP
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Bugs
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My friend and I took off work early Friday to explore Marmot Lake and get up toward Jade Lakeand ho...
My friend and I took off work early Friday to explore Marmot Lake and get up toward Jade Lakeand hopefully Pea Soup Lake on a two-night backpacking trip.

We set out from the Deception Pass trailhead at about 2PM. Originally we intended to go up to Tuck Lake, but decided to save the time and energy and instead camped at a site on an isolated lake just south of Deception Pass, just over 5 miles from the trailhead.

Know that the mosquitoes are in full force the entire way, so be SURE to have plenty of DEET handy. We were also visited by a curious deer several times in the hours before dawn. No worries there.

Early Saturday morning we packed up camp and headed out to Marmot. Including the blowdowns from the trailhead to Deception Pass, by the time we reached Marmot Lake, we had to cross over, under, and around 16 blowdowns. Fortunately on our way out Sunday we encountered two Forest Service women with a two-handed saw intent on clearing the stock trails up to the Pass, but not all the way to Marmot Lake, as that is not really their priority, apparently. -- Hey WTA: work party?

The 4.25 mile trail from the pass to Marmot Lake descends 700 ft and then gains 900 ft. It is overgrown on the exposed slopes beneath the ridge, so be prepared to get wet from dew if hiking early in the morning. Otherwise the trail is in decent shape. Lots of flowers in bloom.

Punching out into the Marmot Lake basin you are greeted with a variety of great campsites huddled along the eastern shore; a few are right on the water and we were able to score what we believe is the best site.

As the day progressed, more backpackers arrived and set up camp around us, and several folks were fishing, though we only saw a handful of fish being caught.

After setting up camp, we set out for Jade Lake with aspirations to get on up over Dip Top Gap and seeing Pea Soup Lake at the base of the Lynch Glacier beneath Mt. Daniel.

Going around the south side of Marmot Lake, we followed and then lost the trail at the first chute, so we headed straight up the chute into a box canyon and traversed to the right (west) and reacquired the trail. We definitely did not want to go down the way we scrambled up.

The key is to keep a close eye out for the cairns. The correct trail leads past the first chute and up the left (east) side of the second (true) chute that sometimes criss-crosses the scree. After we completed our ascent, about a mile from our campsite on Marmot we walked past No Name Lake, and then descended to the Jade Lake basin. This is where we crossed over small patches of snow; the only snow on the trip to this point.

Jade Lake and its azure water is absolutely stunning with snowy Dip Top Gap beckoning as the backdrop. We saw a lot of frogs in the streams and pools around Jade Lake. Due to the time and energy lost on our mis-route, we decided to just enjoy Jade Lake and not slog up the gap. Jade Lake is quite satisfying in its own right.

After some time soaking up the views at Jade, we headed back down to Marmot Lake and had a cold yet refreshing swim in the lake to wash off the dirt and sweat. We relaxed on our rocky beach as our swim clothes dried in the afternoon sun and breeze, then settled in for some dinner and called it a night as the sun went down.

We broke camp at dawn, and the bugs were really intense. We were very happy to be moving down the trail just after 7AM. Less than four hours later we were back at the Deception Pass trailhead, just about 9 miles from Marmot.

This was a memorable trip; both Marmot and especially Jade Lakes are beautiful and worth the time to explore.

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Deception Creek, Marmot Lake, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section J - Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass - East, Surprise Mountain, Surprise and Glacier Lakes, Deception Pass — Jul 13, 2013 — LDistel
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Water on trail | Snow on trail | Bugs
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Full report and photos on We did an inverse lollipop, starting at Decept...
Full report and photos on

We did an inverse lollipop, starting at Deception Creek, up to the pass, to Marmot Lake, back to Pass and over PCT to Surprise, up to the summit, descended the gap, out Surprise Creek and then back to Deception Creek TH.

Trails are relatively clear, with a few blowdowns on each one, but mostly manageable (most probably are on Deception Creek). We met a ranger when we were descending Surprise Gap and he was curious to trail conditions; we told him which areas needed the most attention and he said he would relay the info to the trail teams (cool!).

Tiny patches of snow at Deception Pass and on Surprise Mountain. Surprise Gap still has quite a bit, mostly on the north side.

Lots of creek fording and water sources throughout.

Note that if you come out Surprise or Deception creek and want to go back to the other trailhead, the RR tracks or highway 2 are your best bets (but be careful on RR, and I'm not certain on the legality of that). The powerline road is only good for 75% of the way, and will lead you to a heinous devil's club bushwhack.
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Marmot Lake, DipTop Gap, Jade Lake — Sep 22, 2012 — jayboyzee
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When you arrive at a normally crowded trailhead on a Saturday morning in peak hiking season as one o...
When you arrive at a normally crowded trailhead on a Saturday morning in peak hiking season as one of only two vehicles in the parking lot, you've got to start to question your sanity. Or perhaps you simply question the sanity of everyone else.

As my friend Holly and I planned out this weekend adventure, we never could have planned on the confluence of forest fires that would erupt within spitting distance to our favorite hiking areas. And as we watched one friend after another drop their east side plans for westward or northward plan B's, we decided at the last minute to take our chances, the draw of Salmon La Sac and her tapestry of trails too strong to resist.

Driving through Roslyn at 6:30am on Saturday unveiled a smokey haze and potentially hazardous odors, but push on we did. 30 windy and pot-holed ridden miles later, we pulled up to the ghost-town of a parking lot, eerily vacant of the usual hustle and bustle found at the farthest reaches of this entryway to the Cascades.

At 7:30am, amidst overcast skies and a subtle hint of smoke, Holly and I pulled on our packs, did a quick gut check, and began the nine-mile push towards our first stop: Marmot Lake.

The first four miles along Hyas Lake always fly by on the trip in, but can be deceivingly long on the way out, so we took note of our time at key intervals along the way. This approach proved to be a huge sanity saver as we trudged the last few miles out the following evening. At around the four mile mark, the trail steepens significantly, and for a mile you're gaining some solid elevation.

Passing the turnoff for Tuck and Robin Lakes - another favorite - and shortly thereafter the PCT junction, we felt the winds pick up and the clouds settle in. It was becoming quickly evident that the next four plus miles to Marmot Lake were not going to be filled with any views to speak of, as visibility dropped to less than 50 yards. Passing the only other soul we saw the entire weekend, a solo hiker in from Yakima, we climbed a few switchbacks, made a sharp turn and found ourselves descending into what appeared to be a lake. Marmot Lake, to be exact.

A quick snack to charge, then onwards we pushed, as the sun appeared to be breaking through the clouds. For a few moments, Marmot Lake briefly unveiled a sliver of her beauty. But as we started to ascend the next 1,000 plus feet up a boulder-strewn, cairn-led trail, our hearts sank as we watched the fog pull the curtains back in place, our views once again obstructed by a relentless fog.

For over a mile we hopped boulders, spotted pink-ribbon tied cairns and made our way up. Our electronic trail map had yet to fail us, and calling upon it once again, we noted a small, mostly dry lake through the fog to our left; what we took to be No Name Lake. Less than a quarter mile later, we summited a little knoll and looked down upon a small shoreline to what appeared to be a much larger lake. Jade Lake, we were certain, though not particularly jade in color in the mist.

Tired, hungry and frustrated by the lack of visibility, we found ourselves a small, flat grassy patch, set up our tent and had a quick meal. A trail that continued past our campsite and dropped down a steep hillside had us curious, and as the afternoon crept on and the fog remained, we decided to stretch our legs and explore.

As we walked downwards and hopped a large tree across the trail, through the thick mist we noted what appeared to be a drop off with a wisp of greenish-blue behind. Could it be a lake? And if so, what lake?

And then it dawned on us...

We'd found Jade Lake. We had stopped one lake too soon! Laughing off our easily explained away stupidity, we did some quick shoreline exploring before returning to camp. Once settled into our tent, Holly briefly prayed to the good-weather gods before turning in for the evening. We had little expectations of the fog lifting during the night as we drifted off, the clock barely ticking past the eight o'clock hour.

At 2am my bladder pulled me from restful sleep. Slipping on my boots, I slipped through the damp and somewhat frozen rainfly and fumbled with my headlamp. As I cocked my head back to turn the lamp on, my eyes landed on an unexpected sight - a sky filled with more stars than I may have ever seen before in my life. Snapping my head to the left, mountains loomed in the glow of the starlight, and I let out an audible gasp. The unrelenting fog had vanished, leaving an untarnished sky and breathtaking horizon.

When I returned back to the tent, I squealed with joy, awoke a dazed and initially disbelieving Holly to share the good news and, like a kid the night before Christmas, struggled to fall back asleep, anxious to explore the wonders I had laid my dilated pupils upon.

Sunday morning, we awoke at first light and whipped out our cameras for a feast of photo taking before enjoying a quick breakfast. Charged, excited by the mercifully clear weather and ready to complete our adventure, we did our second gut check of the trip as we drank in the snow-covered climb we had ahead. Between two massive rock faces, we took in the contour of the land as it dipped just above a long, steep field of snow. That dip - DipTop gap - was what we had our sights on. And now that the weather was cooperating, we weren't going to leave empty handed.

Ice axes in hand, we returned to glorious Jade Lake, now revealing all her glistening blue water. After a brief attempt to start high along the gully, we backtracked when Holly's footing briefly slipped and sent a few rocks rolling for a long ten seconds down the slopes below. Rocks falling that distance? Pretty cool. Us falling that distance? Lights out.

Returning to the challenging scramble to the shoreline, we lowered ourselves slowly to the lakeside before beginning the long hike up.

At this point there were no cairns to lead the way. We carefully picked out our route as we jumped stream after stream, making our way up the scree before finally reaching the head of the snow field. Two rookies with ice axes, we quickly practiced our self-arrest before trudging forward.

Slowly but steadily we made our way up the snow, reaching a relatively flat area before the snow steepened significantly. Our third and final gut check had us confirming our desire to finish what we had started, and a few long switchbacks later we had reached our final destination.

Stepping into the gap, we needed to sit to compose ourselves. Before us lay Mt. Daniels in all her glacier exposed glory. And beneath her sat the crystal blue of Pea Soup Lake, a treat for the visual senses.

As we snapped some photos, took in the epic views both before and behind us, and relished in our accomplishment, we thought back to the last 30 hours. From the doomsday warnings of the smokey haze, the eerily empty parking lot and the nearly blinding fog the day before, we had pushed each challenge aside, absorbing the final blow up the steep snowy slopes in a successful attempt to reach DipTop.

One fist-bump, two jumps for joy and huge Cheshire grins told the story and, as we began the glissade back down to Jade, we knew the next 13 miles out would be tough, but worth every step. Miles from another human being, this little sliver of the Cascades was ours - at least for one fabulously sunny day hiking in the Pacific Northwest.

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Paddy-Go-Easy Pass, Tuck Lake, Robin Lakes, Hyas Lake, North Scatter Creek, Marmot Lake, Cathedral Rock, Paris Creek — Aug 26, 2012 — Washington Trails Association
Day hike
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ACCESS ROAD NOTE: The unpaved portion of the access road (FS 4330 or Cle Elum Valley Road) is pothol...
ACCESS ROAD NOTE: The unpaved portion of the access road (FS 4330 or Cle Elum Valley Road) is potholed and in *very* poor shape. Speed: count on about an hour to go about 10 miles with a four-wheel drive or higher clearance all-wheel drive vehicle. Low-clearance sedans are not recommended.
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Marmot Lake — Aug 16, 2012 — backpatrick
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Bugs
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WTA was working on the trail between Deception Pass and Marmot Lake and what an outstanding job. The...
WTA was working on the trail between Deception Pass and Marmot Lake and what an outstanding job. The trail is in great shape - thanks WTA! The weather was great (okay, maybe a little too warm for my buddy) and wildflowers in full array. Great swimming in Marmot. Went to Jade Lake and jumped in but got right out. it's very cold but easily the most beautiful sight I have ever seen in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. My heart went into atrial fibrillation while camping at Marmot. When I dove into Jade, it shocked my heart back into normal rhythm. My cardiologist said it was when my face hit the water. We had an excellent camp site with a rock that slopes right down into the water for easy swimming. Just stay on the trail after you come to the lake and keep going south - you will know the site when you see it. Caught and released a bunch of cutthroat but kept one and ate it for breakfast. Of course, lots of squitos but that's a given.
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marmot lake gali walker.jpg
Marmot Lake. Photo by Galiwalker
WTA worked here!
2010, 2011
Lake Clarice Trail (#1066)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest - Skykomish Ranger District
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Dogs allowed on leash

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