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Mirror Lake

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Mirror, mirror, in the mountains: where's the fairest lake of all? Truth be told, the answer isn't Mirror Lake--there are far finer lakes in these lake-rich mountains. But Mirror Lake is arguably the fairest lake of all in the area south of Snoqualmie Pass. This region has been ravaged by logging, and the few pockets of undisturbed wildlands generally are unremarkable. But Mirror Lake sits in a deep basin alongside the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Forests line much of the water's edge, but there are plenty of clear banks where you can sit in the sunshine and enjoy the marvelous views over the lake and beyond to the mountains ringing the basin. Sit quietly and you might see kingfishers in the trees or diving on the resident trout. There's also a host of deer living in the region and they make frequent visits to the lake basin for water and rich forage.

From the lower parking area walk 0.5 mile up the gently climbing rough road to the true trailhead, found at the switchback in the road. The trail contours away from the road, climbing gradually through brushy forest and old clear-cuts for 0.5 mile before reaching the wading pond called Cottonwood Lake (this lake is too shallow for fish, but perfect for mosquito breeding--don't linger if you value your blood).

From Cottonwood continue upward, pushing north another 0.5 mile to a junction with the PCT at the shores of Mirror Lake. Turn left onto the PCT to walk the shoreline and to find the best reflections in the calm waters. Standing near the outlet stream you'll see Tinkham Peak in the lake's mirror finish.
Driving Directions:

From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 62 (signed "Kachess Lake"). At the bottom of the exit ramp turn right and drive southwest over the Yakima River. At 1.1 miles turn right (northwest) onto Forest Road 5480. Remain on this road as it continues along the shores of Keechelus Lake before climbing above Roaring Creek and then skirting the north shore of Lost Lake. The road continues up the hill above Lost Lake. At 7.1 miles from the freeway the rough gravel road turns into a very rough dirt track. Most hikers prefer to park here (elev. 3600 ft), though those with high-clearance four-wheel-drives can push on the final 0.5 mile to the trailhead at 3750 feet.

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

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 46 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Mirror Lake, Meadow Mountain (Stampede Pass area) — Oct 29, 2013 — twopaddles
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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Our group of 7 hikers spotted a car at Stampede Pass, then took the FS 5480 Road to the unmarked tra...
Our group of 7 hikers spotted a car at Stampede Pass, then took the FS 5480 Road to the unmarked trailhead leading up the rough road to trail #1302. The unmarked trailhead is found on the left where the road makes a switchback turn to the right, 0.5 mi. above the parking spot. This trail has some wet areas, but climbs quickly past Cottonwood Lake to reach the PCT just north of Mirror Lake.

We then hiked south 10 miles to reach Stampede Pass. The PCT skirts Mirror Lake, a lovely spot, drops down to Yakima Pass & climbs past lots of "No Trespassing" signs along the edge of the Cedar River watershed. The route leads hikers through a wide variety of forests, from fairly recent clear cuts to remnant old growth groves, with occasional fine views to the east & north. We saw plenty of elk tracks on this sunny day, but no critters.

The trail is generally in excellent condition. We encountered one USFS employee who was clearing trail drains as he hiked this section. THEM - Olympia.
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Mirror Lake — Jul 13, 2013 — Sir-Hikes-A-Lot
Day hike
Issues: Bugs
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I decided to hike south from the PCT TH at Snoqualmie Pass to Mirror Lake, Twilight Lake, and beyond...
I decided to hike south from the PCT TH at Snoqualmie Pass to Mirror Lake, Twilight Lake, and beyond.

From the Snoqualmie Pass TH all the way to my turn around point, ~ 1.5 miles beyond Twilight Lk, the trail is in really good shape. There are only two downed trees the whole way (east side of Mirror Lk) and they are a non-issue. There are some brush issues just south of Rockdale Creek, but it is very short lived, and there are a few snow patches around the 6 and 7 mile mark from Snoqualmie, which will be gone soon and are a non-issue.

Abundant water the whole way.

It was nice to have a lot of solitude so close to I-90 and on a Saturday!

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Mirror Lake — Jul 11, 2013 — George & Sally
Day hike
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We had not hiked to Mirror Lake before, so decided to check out a new trail to us. After getting off...
We had not hiked to Mirror Lake before, so decided to check out a new trail to us. After getting off I-90 at the Stampede Pass exit we headed south on Road 54. About a mile after crossing over the Yakima River, we turned west for the 7 mile drive on FS Road 5480 to the trailhead. The first 3 miles of this road are some of the roughest I have ever driven and had more potholes then the hairs on a dog's back. So this 7 mile drive took about 30 minutes. The 1302 trailhead is located on an old logging road where you can not drive any further. There was one other vehicle parked there.

You walk up a section of the old road about 1/2 mile to where the trail starts at the first switchback on the road near the old parking area. There is a rock cairn placed on top of a short post, but no sign. The first 150 yards of the trail is overgrown in ferns before getting into the old growth forest. We crossed a few small creeks and Cottonwood Creek before getting to Cottonwood Lake. The nice trail goes along the south side of the lake as it gains elevation. There is one snow patch left on the trail just before getting to the junction with the PCT at the north end of Mirror Lake. We headed south on the PCT along the lake where there were campsites along the way. At the south end of the lake we found a good spot for lunch with a good view of Tinkham Peak. While we were eating, a mother duck and 8 ducklings came paddling by us. With a cool wind blowing, the bugs were not bad.

After lunch we decided to hike south on the PCT to Yakima Pass (Elev. 3575') at Twilight Lake. A short distance from Mirror Lake the old growth forest ends and the trail goes through an old clearcut area is now grown over with reprod Doug Firs, some 1' in diameter. There are some nice water falls on Mirror Creek to see while hiking the PCT. A smaller upper falls and a lower larger one where the PCT switchbacks downhill. We crossed Mirror Creek twice before crossing two old logging roads on the way to Yakima Pass. Twilight Lake is located at the pass, but is marshy so we did not hike to the lake shore. On the hike back up to Mirror Lake the sun felt warm and the skeeters were trying to get us. But once back up in the old growth forest there was a nice breeze that kept them away.

We only met one other hiker, on our way back out. Saw two people fishing and one trail runner who stopped for a snack at Mirror Lake. Only a few mud holes on the trail to get by. Made for a nice day in the mountains with no crowds and some new scenery.

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Cold Creek, Mirror Lake — Jul 11, 2013 — ReaRunner
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Clouds and highway slow downs made me change my initial plans to hike up to Rachel Lake, and instead...
Clouds and highway slow downs made me change my initial plans to hike up to Rachel Lake, and instead head up to Twin Lakes, Mirror Lake, and Twilight Lake.
As I drove up I-90 around 10am, the clouds covered the peaks of the mountains. I figured they would burn off eventually, but I wasn’t sure if it would clear up before I got to the top of Alta Mountain. On top of that, traffic slowed to a crawl at Snoqualmie Pass due to the ongoing road construction. I exited at Hyak, and headed up Forest Road 9070. After three miles, I parked in a small pull-out, and started up the trail to Twin Lakes. Trail 1303 was in surprisingly good shape, considering it was a 2.5 mile spur trail connecting to the PCT, and that the pull-out I started at could only accommodate 3 cars or so.
Twin Lakes is less than a mile up, and it was very peaceful. From there, the trail climbed 1400 feet to the ridge above Mirror Lake. There were some rough spots in the trail, but nothing to worry about. It just forced me go a little slower than usual. At the ridge, the trail joined up to the PCT, and it was an easy half mile down to Mirror Lake. One fisherman was at the lake, otherwise it seemed empty. It was a nice contrast to some of the louder weekend nights I’ve witnessed at the lake. I arrived at the southern end of the lake exactly 1hour after leaving the car.
From there, I headed further south a short mile to Twilight Lake at Yakima Pass. This had become my goal for the day simply because of all the times I’ve run past this little lake, I had never gotten close to its shore. The trail skirts the lake, but there is no obvious trail to it. Today, I found out why this was the case. Twilight Lake doesn’t really have a shoreline, as its sides are marshy and surrounded with reeds and grasses.
I headed back the way I came, and noticed another two people at Mirror Lake when I arrived. I took a quick snack break, then continued on up the ridge and over it to Twin Lakes. When I arrived, the sun was out, it had warmed up a little, and it was still devoid of other people. I went for a much needed swim, and the water was warm enough for me to sit in the lake for a few minutes. That was not true at Melakwa Lake 2 days previous, when jumping in literally took my breath away. I ate the rest of my sandwich, dried off in the sun, and scampered back to the car. Total trip was about 10 miles in 2:44.
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Mirror Lake — Jul 04, 2013 — mtnlou
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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The access road by Lost Lake is now riddled with many large potholes, but we made our way to the tra...
The access road by Lost Lake is now riddled with many large potholes, but we made our way to the trailhead just fine. This is the shortest way to Mirror Lake and so our plan was to hike the PCT to Mt Catherine, then head back to the lake for a dip.

The trail to Mirror is free of snow, save for just a bit when intersecting with the PCT. After hopping on the PCT going north, we hit a few crossings which could be navigated by circumventing the snow (as it was icy and angled) until we lost the trail just a half mile past the Twin Lakes trail junction.

Since two in our party had already broken through some snow (without injury luckily), we decided to skip Mt Cath and head back to the lake. I was the only one who dipped and it was very cold, but lovely anyway. I also packed out as much trash as I could find, which has always been a problem there. There's more to do, so if you see something... pick it up and take it home.
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Mirror lake hikeoftheweekclub.jpg
WTA worked here!
Mirror Lake (#1302)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Cle Elum Ranger District
Roundtrip 2.0 miles
Elevation Gain 800 ft
Highest Point 4200 ft
Fall foliage
User info
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie Pass (Manning & Spring - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass No. 207

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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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