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Josephine Lake

Central Cascades


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


Gain: 1800 ft.
Highest Point: 5150 ft.


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WTA worked here: 2011

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

Josephine is a beautiful lake 5.2 miles south of Stevens Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail winds thru the Stevens Pass Ski area, climbing for two miles to top of the hill, gaining 1000 feet along the way.

When snow is not present, the ski runs are covered in wildflowers and sun-loving shrubs. After crossing the ridge which forms the backbone of the ski area, the trail descends 500 fee, crossing a number of talus fields and ducking under the power lines, heading west. Once past the power lines, civilization retreats. The only sound is the occasional bird, and the marmots and pika’s chirping their ‘here come hikers’ warning.

The trail starts climbing again, recapturing the 500 feet lost from the top of the ski area, passing a small frog pond with the fancy name of Lake Susan Jane. The trail heads over a small unnamed pass, where you will find a junction with the Icicle Creek Trail 1551. You can look down on Lake Josephine shimmering 300 feet below and call it a day, or follow Trail 1551 down half a mile to the lake.

If you're hiking the trail in August or later, you will likely meet PCT thru hikers heading north to Canada. These are fun folks to talk with, since they often have come all the way from the Mexican border. We frequently carry extra snacks; cherries or cookies are particularly good to share with thru hikers -- they'll light up when offered a fresh treat.

For full trail angel status, watch for thru hikers at Stevens Pass hitch-hiking down to Skykomish for a resupply. The thirty minute ride will be deeply appreciated and the stories they have can be inspiring.

WTA Pro Tip: If you have a large group with two cars, you can turn this into a nice thru hike by having half the team start at the Tunnel Creek Trail and climb up to the junction with the PCT at Hope Lake. There, they can turn north and proceed 4 miles to Lake Josephine. There, you can swap keys and continue to the other trailhead.

The Tunnel Creek starters will gain more elevation, the total distance is pretty similar to going into Josephine and returning to Stevens Pass.


Josephine Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.7465, -121.0865 Open map in new window


Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Wenatchee River Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails Stevens Pass No. 176

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Getting There

Drive Highway 2 east from Seattle or west from Leavenworth to Stevens Pass. The trailhead is accessed from the parking lot just east of the ski area, on the south side of Highway 2.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Josephine Lake

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