The Basin Lake Trail is located just east of the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort in the Norse Peak Wilderness. This is a little-used trail, which traverses some steep sections with eroding gullies where hikers may get queasy depending on their comfort level with exposure.
Basin Lake can be accessed via the network of trails that leave from the ski area or from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which intersects both its northern and southern end, forming a loop.
At its southern end, the Basin Lake Trail leaves the PCT and veers to the east, where it traverses a steep slope. Make sure you have good footing through this section, and take extra care when crossing the gullies that bisect the trail. After about a mile, the grade will level out as you enter Cement Basin. Don’t be fooled by the game trails in this area, and stay on the main path.
After another short climb of about 400 feet, you will cross over a minor pass into another basin, where the aptly named Basin Lake sits. To access the lake, look for the spur trail taking off to the right, and follow this for about half a mile, descending about 250 feet in the process. Rather than turning right to the lake, you can stay straight for another 0.3 mile to reconnect with the PCT and the northern end of the Basin Lake Trail.
If you want to avoid the exposed section, try the more direct approach from the north via the Norse Peak Trail. Any trip to Basin Lake will include other trails in the area. Consider making it part of the Pickhandle Gap Loop or forming your own loop with the Bullion Basin Trail.
No matter how you get there, please respect the long-term restoration project happening around the lakeshore by staying on the main trail and camping at least 200 feet from all water sources.