The Hidden Lakes are the jewels of the Pasayten Wilderness. As the name suggests, the lakes are tucked away deep in the Wilderness and offer hikers the opportunity to fish, swim, and relax after the taxing hike up. A series of four named lakes, Cougar Lake, First Hidden Lake, Middle Hidden Lake, and Big Hidden Lake are a popular destination for backpackers in the summer. There is a cabin nestled in the trees near First Hidden Lake.
As you drive to the Billy Goat Trailhead, the road is covered in potholes, so exercise caution when driving on the paved and gravel portions of the road. Along the road, there are four campgrounds, one of which supplies potable water. It is a great opportunity to rest up by car camping the night before or after a long backpacking trip.
Begin the trek from the Billy Goat Trailhead. You will shortly come to a junction where you will follow the Hidden Lakes Trail No. 477 to the left towards Eightmile Pass. The trail makes two moderate ascents and descents en route to the lakes. The first ascent is 700 ft in 2 miles up to Eightmile Pass on the northeast side of Eightmile Creek, with views of Big Craggy and Eightmile Peak to the southwest. From Eightmile Pass, you'll descend 1000 ft in 2 miles to reach Drake Creek, where the bridge was lost in the massive 2017 Diamond Creek Fire. Shortly after crossing Drake Creek, keep left at the junction with Billy Goat Trail No. 502B to continue on Hidden Lakes Trail. The climbing then resumes in the form of switchbacks gaining over 1000 ft of elevation in 1.5 miles up to Lucky Pass, where you can enjoy views of Lost Peak, Pass Butte, Rampart Ridge, and Many Trails Peak to the southwest.
From Lucky Pass, descend 1500 ft in 3.8 miles along the ridge line to Diamond Creek, and enjoy views of Island Mountain on the right. After you cross the bridge at Diamond Creek, 3 miles of small climbs and descents north deliver you into the Lost River Valley, where 1.3 miles later you reach the first lake, Cougar Lake. Here, there is a large camping area with room for many tents. Partake in some fishing and hope to catch a rainbow trout. From there, continue another 1.5 miles to the southern tip of the next lake. From here, the lakes are strung together.
Between First Hidden Lake and Middle Hidden Lake, there is a junction to turn right onto the Stub Creek trail as well as two cabins from the 1950s. Between Middle Hidden Lake and Big Hidden Lake, the junction to the Tatoosh Buttes trail branches off to the left. The Hidden Lakes trail continues along the east side of Big Hidden Lake until it joins the East Fork Pasayten River trail a distance of 17.8 miles from the Billy Goat Trailhead.
Throughout the hike, wildflowers are abundant in the summer. You will walk through recently burned forest and might happen upon deer, elk, grouse, rabbits, and chipmunks. This hike is an excellent options for hikers looking for a longer backpack with plenty of opportunity to try new things and explore new places.
This trail is part of WTA's Lost Trails Campaign. Learn more about how we're saving lost trails across the state here.