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Trip Report

Grace Lakes — Friday, Mar. 18, 2022

Central Cascades
View from lower view point looking NORTH

A nice gem of a snowshoe trek at Stevens Pass on Friday, March 18; the winter snow route is different than the summer route as it mostly keeps you away from the bustle of the ski zones. Tldr; ez access off Hwy 2, serene snow/ice covered lakes, steep uphill tread at times, and from knoll 4,833 great views west-north-east.

Thanks to the great info that trip reporter ‘danielshoe’ submitted for 3/7/22 we readily found our way.

Parking: Lot 4 is key. Free, porta potties, ground frozen in AM, slushy in afternoon. Only 1/3 full at 10 AM on a Friday.

The hike starts on the caterpillar track service road, “Cat Track”,  found in the SE corner of the lot by the boxcar storage containers. Immediately head right, west, and up the Cat Track….soon coming in view of the red Mountaineers’ Lodge. Keep left staying on Cat Track and soon bend right passing a few homes. At the next intersection head right. The route on your left is one of the spots that you’ll meet potential downhill skiers/snowboarders. None crossed our paths. Peaceful trekking up the cat track soon brings you to a vista spot; pop off the trail and take a minute up the slope for views northward. The powdery snow was wonderful.

The way is up, somewhat steep at times, but does offer a few level spots, unlike its cousin Skyline Lake across the Highway. We saw ski/boarding tracks through the trees but no one as we passed. No other junctions or confusing choices. Just stay on the cat track.

Arrived at our first snow covered Grace Lake at about the 1.4 mile mark and could see snowshoe/boot tracks angling east/southeast on its northern shoreline, another time we’ll check that out as a way to get to one of the other Grace Lakes. 

Enjoying the now level track we soon arrived at the promised warning WSDOT sign DANGER KEEP OUT Artillery Impact Area. Got our attention! We backtracked about 200’ and then angled NW towards a high point through the powdery, not yet trampled snow. In just 2/10’s of a mile we topped out at 4,833’ and aptly named it Knoll 4,833. From one side we could see down to frozen, snow covered Summit Lake, then north to Skyline Ridge-Lichtenberg Mtn-and a bit beyond into the clouds. Due east in the shadow of Cowboy Mtn we could see the chair lifts and skiers descending under it. Wonderful. And so peaceful; only the thud of melting snow balls dropping off the trees. 

We followed our same path after lunch back to the Cat Track for a quick (1 hour)  return to the car;  stopping to look more closely at the mirage that the frozen lake was. Now home, and re reading ‘danielshoe’s’ report, it looks like we could have weaved our way to one of the other Grace Lakes by heading south after the backtrack from the Danger sign. Next time.

Deets: No other hikers. Saw 5 snowboarders but they weren’t in our track. Mileage/Gain: Just under 4 miles with about 850' gain (depends on which eDevice you have). A return trip will be in order.

No avalanche risk for us today; as always we did check and appreciate the NWAC Sign about a ½ mile in. nwac.us

Our route ending atop Knoll 4833
Level part of the cat track as we neared the first of the Grace Lakes
Standing on shoreline of one of the Grace Lakes.

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