Spider Meadows #1511
Aug 12, 1999
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Spider Meadow and Phelps Basin
- Region: Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East
- Agency: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Wenatchee River Ranger District, Leavenworth
- Trails: Spider Meadows (#1511)
- Avg Rating: 3.82
- Be Aware Of
- Snow on trail
Cathy and I took a couple of weekdays off work to avoid the crowds at this popular spot. It worked to perfection. There were only three cars at the trailhead when we arrived on Thursday. The trail to the wilderness boundary was pleasant and uneventful. Starting there, however, was the beginning of intermittent snow that at times consisted of four-foot tall drifts to climb over. In addition, there were several big old-growth blow downs that required big detours through the muck. Near the meadow, the snow was pretty continuous and the trail was hard to follow.
The lower meadow itself, however, was completely snow-free and gorgeous. All of the campsites at the start were open. The upper meadow still had lots of snow, and we grabbed one of the few open sites there. We had just one other camper to share the entire meadow with. We had timed our trip to coincide with the Perseids meteor showers and were rewarded with a great view in the big sky over the meadow that night.
Wildflowers in the meadow are late, but there are patches of glacier lilies and anemones near melting snow. The trail to the meadow provided opportunities to identify foamflower, Sitka valerian, Columbia lilies, queen cups, monkey flowers, columbines, violets, pipsissewa, and numerous others.
The next day we grabbed our ice axes and gaiters and headed up toward Spider Gap. The crossing of Phelps Creek was a bit of a challenge with the high water, as were many crossings on the trip. There were still snow bridges, but we didn’t dare try them. Once we made it through the snow in the trees and started up the switchbacks, the trail was open until the top. Once on top, we saw solid snow, many feet thick, all the way down the chute right to the edge where the water falls out. We walked straight up the snowfield, which gave us good footing, and made it up to Spider Gap. We considered going down and visiting Lyman Lake, but the heavy clouds coming over Cloudy Pass looked very uninviting. There were no signs of footprints on the north side of the Gap.
The glissade back down the snowfield was a lot more fun than the walk down the switchbacks. On the way out of the meadow on Friday afternoon we met the hordes starting to come in. The trail through the snow became easier to follow because of all the footprints. We suspect that most of the open campsites will be full by weekend. Weekday camping, if you can swing it, is highly recommended.