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Spider Gap - Buck Creek Pass Loop

The Spider Gap - Buck Creek Pass Loop penetrates some of the most glorious country of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Take five days (or seven!) and enjoy some of the best backcountry in the state. Along the way, you'll see massive wildflower meadows, glaciers, alpine lakes, high mountain passes and supreme views of Glacier Peak.

Start along the popular Spider Meadow-Phelps Creek trail (also written up here as a dayhike). Follow Phelps Creek for a long, but relatively easy 5 miles to the mile-long expanse of Spider Meadow. This is a favorite destination of weekend backpackers, so you may wish to camp further along - either in Phelps Basin at the far end of the meadow or in one of the camps near the tarns at the base of Spider Glacier.

At the end of Spider Meadow, choose the steep trail to the left to ascend to Upper Lyman Lakes. It's steep, but it's just a warm-up for the most harrowing part of the loop. Bringing trekking poles or an ice axe is highly recommended for climbing up Spider Glacier (if the snow has melted out, you can also pick your way to the right of the glacier over rocks) to Spider Gap (your high point at 7100 ft).

There is a boot-beaten path from the Gap as you head down to Upper Lyman Lakes, which can be quite treacherous when snow or ice-covered. Make sure to time your trip late enough in the summer to make it down safely - or turn around at Spider Gap.

There are plenty of campsites around Lyman Lake (elev. 5500 feet), and it provides a good basecamp for exploring the area. Take short sidetrips to Lyman Falls or hike down the trail to large Hart Lake and relax on its pebbly shore. Or push on -- there's still plenty to see on the loop. Cloudy Pass is another 1.5 miles past Lower Lyman Lake, and Suiattle Pass another mile beyond that. Note that water may be limited in this area late in summer, so be sure to stock up at Lyman Lakes.

By the time you reach Suiattle Pass, the views have really opened up. Enjoy in-your-face views of the wilderness around you, especially of the mountain it's named for, Glacier Peak. At the pass, you join with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for a few miles of sensory overload. One sidetrip to seriously consider is Image Lake. While it's about a 7-mile roundtrip detour, the path and the destination are completely worth it. Photographers from far and wide have been known to make the trek to Image Lake to capture Glacier Peak reflected in its calm waters.

Whether you take the detour or save Image Lake for another day, continue on the loop, following the PCT and crossing Miners Creek until you reach a junction with Trail 789, which leads to Buck Creek Pass. You'll be tempted again with sidetrips up Middle Ridge and Flower Dome, both worthy destinations.

After exploring Buck Creek Pass, it's a long 9.6 miles back to the trailhead near the Phelps Creek Campground and another three miles along the roadback to your car.
Driving Directions:

From Everett head east on US 2 for 85 miles to Coles Corner. (From Leavenworth travel west on US 2 for 15 miles.) Turn left onto State Route 207 (Lake Wenatchee) and proceed 4.2 miles to a Y intersection after crossing the Wenatchee River. Bear right onto the Chiwawa Loop Road, and after 1.3 miles turn left onto the Chiwawa River Road (Forest Road 62). Proceed for 22 miles (the pavement ends at 10.8 miles) to a junction. Bear right onto FR 6211 and proceed for 2.3 very rough miles to the trailhead at the road's end (elev. 3500 ft). The hike ends just north of the Phelps Creek Campground, requiring a 3-mile road walk back to your car at the end.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 51 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Spider Gap - Buck Creek Pass Loop — Sep 19, 2013 — bennettdarren
Multi-night backpack
Features: Fall foliage | Ripe berries
Issues: Blowdowns
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Started around 9am on Friday and completed before 10am on Sunday. We did a hard push after the weat...
Started around 9am on Friday and completed before 10am on Sunday. We did a hard push after the weather changed. Spider Glacier was fine at the time we hit it but the other side down to upper Lyman Lake was a sheet if ice (recommend ice axe). We stayed at lower Lyman Lake. Next day was rain until Cloudy Pass. The push over Middle Ridge was hard but we were rewarded with views of Glacier Peak (minus the peak in the clouds). We did not like the camps at Buck Creek Pass so we headed down to a lower camp. Again rain all morning for out trip out and back to the car. Definitely a great loop. Sad we missed going to Image Lake but the cloud cover would have messed with any chance of good views of Glacier Peak.
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Spider Meadow and Phelps Basin, Spider Gap - Buck Creek Pass Loop — Aug 24, 2013 — Audacious Adventurer
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I think it is safe to say that our group likes to live life on the edge...after a little late start ...
I think it is safe to say that our group likes to live life on the edge...after a little late start we made the trek up around 6:40pm and kept cruising until we hit the meadows around 8:45pm. After making a circle through the surrounding campsites we were pointed towards the toilet where there was one remaining site left. With 6 of us it was a perfect big and open spot to set up 3 tents.

After pitching the tents we got a fire started in the ring and began making meals and hot drinks. After eating and conversation we were interrupted by some loud deer. We never figured our how many there were but they were pretty much surround our campsite the whole night, and had no fear. They would be feet from us and not flinch at the loud noises or movements towards them. Quite odd!

The sky was practically clear except for a few clouds, the stars were bright and we were able to get some pictures around midnight. Definitely worth the wait to get some star-gazing in. Hit the hay shortly after cleaning our dishes and filling up water bottles from the creek.

Woke up around 8:00am got some grub in and grabbed our day packs and made our way to the trail. Passed through the meadow and began the climb up to the gap. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the glacier (we stopped a couple times for water and a group picture). No doddling at the base of the glacier, we put on our traction and headed up the snow field to the top of the pass. (The trail was very clean, and easy to navigate)

Peaks upon peaks!! The views at the top were amazing! We just wished we had a couple more days to explore the surrounding lakes (upper and lower Lyman), ridges and peaks. We ran into another hiker with a dog up at the top and he took some group photos of us. Relaxed for awhile and ate some snacks before packing up and heading down. Took us around the same time to go down.

We cleaned up camp, packed our tents and overnight packs up to continue on the trail back down. We ran in to a couple families and couples coming up. The way down was about 10 minutes shorter than going up.

All in all we lucked out and had fabulous weather for the overnight, there had been thunderstorms in the forecast and lots of rain, which we saw none of until we were in our cars heading down to the main road.
The sun was out, the bugs were very minimal and we were happy campers!!
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Spider Gap - Buck Creek Pass Loop — Aug 19, 2013 — Dan M.
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Bugs
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It's hard to find enough superlatives to describe the scenic beauty of this trip. Following advice i...
It's hard to find enough superlatives to describe the scenic beauty of this trip. Following advice in Craig Romano's guide, the majority of people, including myself, do this counterclock wise starting up Spider Meadows in case Spider Glacier is a problem. However, this classic 42 mile (with side trips) route is perfect for doing right now. The snow up Spider Glacier and down the far side of Spider Gap is great condition. I did it in my trail running shoes and trekking poles and had no trouble. Much later in the year when the nights starting to get below freezing at this altitude and the snow will start to become icy and dangerous. Camping is excellent at lower Lyman lakes, Image Lake and Buck Pass. If one has more time, plan on spending an extra night at Buck Pass with it's stunning views of Glacier Peak and hike out the 3 miles, or so, to High Pass. One of the most amazing, scenic places in Washington. One note of caution, you will not be alone on this trip, nor will you find a lot of solitude. All the trails and campsites are very busy right now.
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Spider Gap - Buck Creek Pass Loop — Aug 18, 2013 — knyquist
Multi-night backpack
Issues: Blowdowns | Bridge out | Overgrown | Snow on trail | Bugs
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had an awesome trip going around the loop. it was pretty crowded but for the most part enjoyable to ...
had an awesome trip going around the loop. it was pretty crowded but for the most part enjoyable to run into other hikers and exchange hellos along with information about the trails ahead.
we stayed at buck creek for two nights and during the day in between did a day hike up high pass which was absolutely incredible. I would highly recommend it. only issue with staying at buck pass was that there was not a super great source of water that we could find.

I lost my favorite camp mug on the trail somewhere. I'm pretty sure it was between spider gap and miners creek somewhere but probably closer to spider gap. I was super bummed when I found out, and I know its a long shot but if anyone happens to come across it when they are doing this hike please contact me, I would love to be reunited with my dear mug. it's an orange REI mug with a clip handle (see photo, it's the more beat up looking mug on the left). if you find it you can drink the instant coffee inside, though I would not recommend it. thank you!
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Spider Meadow and Phelps Basin, Spider Gap - Buck Creek Pass Loop — Aug 10, 2013 — mbravenboer
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Snow on trail | Bugs
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We hiked to Spider Gap as a day hike. This hike is about 16 miles and 3900 ft of elevation gain. The...
We hiked to Spider Gap as a day hike. This hike is about 16 miles and 3900 ft of elevation gain. The hike to the Spider Meadow is a very gentle hike, which makes the 16 miles doable in a long day.

We arrived at the parking lot at 8am and got back at about 6pm (earlier than 8am is difficult when driving from Seattle, depending on how much torture you can endure). The parking lot was about 75% full, where most spots were taken by car that have been there overnight. The whole hike we probably ran into less than 10 groups, perhaps because the weather predictions were not great. The weather turned out to be gorgeous though, so we had a great time.

The hike to the Spider Meadow is fairly beautiful, with now and then open patches with wildflowers, and many small creeks to cross. Our dog was having a great time cooling down in every creek. When the forest suddenly stops and the Spider Meadow is visible in front of you, the view is awesome. Beautiful flowers, rough peaks, and many small waterfalls. This is probably one of the most photographed spots, but the pictures don't really do it justice.

After the meadows, at the junction between the Phelps Basin and the Spider Gap we decided to go to the Spider Gap. This is where the trail gets steep and rocky. Some short parts of the trail are slightly dangerous, in particular when having a dog on a leash that you're trying to protect from killing herself by going after the abundance marmots or smaller critters living between the rocks.

After a pretty steep climb, the Spider Glacier (it's more like a huge snowfield now, not sure if it still classifies as a glacier) becomes visible. From this point the hike to the Spider Gap is straight up over this snowfield. The field is not very steep at the beginning, but gets a little bit steeper halfway. We did it with our trekking poles only. It seems dangerous without trekking poles, and we were not entirely comfortable even with our poles. We also met a few people who did the entire thing on sportshoes though, without trekking poles. That didn't seem like a great idea. Of course, our dog thought this whole field of snow was an amazing playground and danced around the whole trip.

The views from the gap are amazing - with the beautiful Lyman Lakes in the front, and (presumably) the Dome Peak in the distance.

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Upper Lyman Lakes Galiwalker.jpg
Upper Lyman Lakes. Photo by Galiwalker.
WTA worked here!
2010, 2011
Phelps Creek Trail (#1511), (#1256B), (#1256), (#1279), PCT (#2000), (#789), Buck Creek (#1513)
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Wenatchee River Ranger District, Leavenworth
Roundtrip 44.0 miles
Elevation Gain 7200 ft
Highest Point 7100 ft
Fall foliage
Mountain views
Established campsites
User info
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
100 Classic Hikes in Washington (Ira Spring & Harvey Manning) - Mountaineers Books.
Backpacking Washington (Craig Romano) - Mountaineers Books.
Green Trails #113 Holden

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