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Howard Lake

Central Cascades > Entiat Mountains/Lake Chelan
48.3801, -120.8376 Map & Directions
Length
3.3 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
600 feet
Highest Point
2180 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Easy/Moderate
Howard Lake on a sunny day. Photo by MustHikeMustEat. Full-size image
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Old growth
  • Good for kids
  • Lakes
  • Fall foliage

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

Just behind the High Bridge Guard Station at the end of the road in Stehekin, a trail leads to a quiet little lake nestled in lush, vibrant forest. This trail is primarily used by hikers heading to the summit of McGregor Mountain, the most prominent peak towering over the Stehekin Valley, but Howard Lake is a nice destination in and of itself, if you don’t have the time or the desire to tackle the 16 mile roundtrip hike up McGregor. Continue reading

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Hiking Howard Lake

Just behind the High Bridge Guard Station at the end of the road in Stehekin, a trail leads to a quiet little lake nestled in lush, vibrant forest. This trail is primarily used by hikers heading to the summit of McGregor Mountain, the most prominent peak towering over the Stehekin Valley, but Howard Lake is a nice destination in and of itself, if you don’t have the time or the desire to tackle the 16 mile roundtrip hike up McGregor. It is accessed by a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, which continues north past the turnoff for Howard Lake.

From the High Bridge Guard Station (a remnant from the era of the Civilian Conservation Corps), look for a trail heading north. This is the Pacific Crest Trail. Follow it along the base of a small knoll, heading northeast along wide tread before it makes a turn and begins climbing moderately on more rugged terrain.

The landscape goes from open Ponderosa forest to a greener, more lush area in just half a mile. As the trail switchbacks uphill, look for a junction with a trail signed as the Cascade Horse Trail. The horse trail heads right, but you will switchback yet again and continue on the left-hand trail, continuing to climb and following the Pacific Crest Trail to a turnoff signed for McGregor Mountain. Just a few hundred feet down this trail, find Howard Lake.

A large rock makes a great spot for picnicking and relaxing. Take in 8000-foot McGregor Mountain towering over you, and listen to wildlife all around you. If you like, retrace your steps and explore further north on the Pacific Crest Trail. Otherwise, stay here as long as you need and return the way you came.

Note: This little lake was officially renamed Howard Lake in 2015. The name honors Wilson Howard, who lived nearby and was one of two black miners to stake mining claims in the North Cascades in the 1890s. While some believe the former name came from raccoons that lived in the area, most people believed it was a racial epithet and called for the name to be changed to honor Howard and the unique life he had. 

Toilet Information

  • No toilet at trailhead

More information about toilets

Hike Description Written by
Anna Roth, WTA Staff

Howard Lake

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.3801, -120.8376 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

A backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in North Cascades National Park. Walk-up and advance permits are $26 and must be picked up in person at one of the park's Wilderness Information Centers.

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Travel to the town of Chelan and find your way to the Lady of the Lake ferry terminal. Ticket prices for the ferry vary depending on which ferry you take and what season you visit; check them at ladyofthelake.com.

Once you're in Stehekin, make arrangements to get to High Bridge. The easiest way to do this is to take a bus. There are four shuttles each day. You can also rent bikes, though keep in mind it's a 14 mile long ride to the trailhead for Howard Lake. However, it's a beautiful ride, and a great way to spend a day if you'll be in the valley overnight.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Central Cascades > Entiat Mountains/Lake Chelan

North Cascades National Park

Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails McGregor Mtn No. 81

Buy the Green Trails McGregor Mtn No. 81 map

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Howard Lake

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