Three night backpacking trip to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington’s Cascades
Day 1: Hike in 5.7 miles with 2,300 ft. elevation gain
We started at the Rachel Lake trailhead with a plan to camp at the Rampart Lakes area. The hike in to Rachel Lake is difficult, as noted on the Mountaineers website: “While the total distance and elevation gain suggests a moderate hike, the infamous Rachel Lake “mile from hell” is truly grueling and inappropriate for those who are not in athletic condition. In one mile, a heavily rooted and rough boot path ascends 1,300 feet. This portion is more like a scramble than a hike, and boots are a must.”
The hike in is next to Box Canyon Creek for most of the way, crossing over many tributary creeks.
This is the trail… rocky with roots to climb up for about a mile. We were really tired on the way up, and considered camping at Rachel Lake, but I’d seen photos of the Rampart Lakes area and was determined to camp there instead.
There are several waterfalls along the way to take your mind off of the steep trail.
Views of nearby ridges begin to appear on the way to Rachel Lake.
We rested at Rachel Lake for a short time, filtering water to continue our hike. The trail past Rachel Lake goes up a steep ridge, but the condition of this trail is much better, with switchbacks to ease the hike up, and views of Rachel Lake below.
Trail junction at the top of the ridge. The sign could use being replaced. Turn right to go to Lila Lakes and Alta Mountain. Turn left to go to Rampart Lakes.
Looking back on the way to Rampart Lakes
We set up a basecamp for all three nights in the Rampart Lakes area.
Day 2: exploring the Rampart Lakes area
sunset at camp
Day 3: day hike to Alta Mountain
On the third day, we headed towards Lila Lakes for a hike up Alta Mountain.
View of Hibox Mountain (in the center) with Lila Lakes below.
Ridge walk up Alta Mountain
View to the north
Wow. Endless peaks.
Looking back towards Rampart Lakes, seen in the ridge below Mount Rainier.