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Crescent Lake

Central Cascades


Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East
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12.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 3732 ft.
Highest Point: 5489 ft.


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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

The distance and vertical gain on a visit to Crescent Lake will ensure solitude. This gem of a lake is tucked in a beautiful hanging valley underneath the ridge that continues to Mount Howard, the highest peak on Nason Ridge. Most visitors to this lake are climbers bound for Howard, a 14 mile day hike from Merritt Lake, with the scramble adding 1500 feet to the healthy elevation gain on this hike.

Save yourself the sweat of a summit attempt and simply bask at the cool shores of this delightful little lake.

Start from the Merritt Lake Trailhead. Begin climbing, covering 1600 vertical feet in two miles to the Nason Ridge trail junction. Here, turn north on the Nason Ridge trail, where immediately the tread narrows. The dust disappears and you know you are on a path less trodden.

The trail climbs to the ridgeline, and views open up down Nason Ridge to the east. Just after attaining the ridge -- roughly a mile after turning onto the Nason Ridge trail — a well-worn boot path leaves the trail and heads north. Don't take it -- this is the climbers route along the ridge to Mount Mastiff.

Continue along Nason Ridge Trail as it slowly descends. In three-quarters of a mile, the trail turns a sharp corner to the north into the Caanan Lake drainage, at which point there are excellent views of Howard and Rock Mountains.

A steep descent adjacent to an unnamed creek, leads to a crossing of Royal Creek at 4800 feet. The trail climbs back up onto the ridge by switchbacking through an open talus field. Once back on the ridge, you pass through a string of high meadows with larch and lots of blueberries as you climb back to 5400 feet, and beautiful Crescent Lake.

WTA Pro Tip: If you have two cars, you can have one group start at Rock Mountain trailhead and proceed south to Crescent Lake, and the other group proceed north from the Merritt Lake trailhead.

A couple of nights at Lake Crescent would provide time to climb Rock Mountain, which boasts a trail to the top and Howard, which is a more serious scramble.


Crescent Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.7910, -120.8851 Open map in new window


Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Wenatchee River Ranger District

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Getting There

From Seattle, drive Highway 2 east for 58 miles to Stevens Pass. Continue east on 2 for another 11.5 miles and watch for a dirt road on the left hand side. This is FS 657. Turn onto it, watching for oncoming westbound traffic. Once on 657 proceed 1.5 miles to the trailhead.

From Leavenworth, drive west on Highway 2 for 15 miles to Coles Corner. Proceed another 8.5 miles and watch for FS 657 on the right. Turn right, and proceed 1.5 miles to the trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Crescent Lake

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