Surprise Lake + Glacier Lake / 驚喜湖+冰川湖

  • Reading time:3 mins read

South of Stevens Pass lies the serene Surprise Lake and Glacier Lake. These Alpine Lakes Wilderness hidden gems have long been a hikers’ favorite. Plus, both lakes are only a stone’s throw away from Highway 2.

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Surprise Lake and Glacier Lake at a Glance

Access: Surprise Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 10 miles
Elevation Range: 2180′-4940′
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

Back to Surprise Lake

It was our seventh trip in ten years. And with an early start, our Christmas tradition has been the best time to avoid the mass. We missed 2018 because of the weather. Then last year, we took a snow-free hike for the puppy.

Despite the freezing temperatures, it was exciting to be back. I parked on the south side of the train tracks. Then we walked half a mile to the trailhead before sunrise.

Before sunrise
Before sunrise

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Surprise Creek Trail

It tends to snow here during the holiday. So in the past, we had to carve out a trail in the powder. But even with the recent snowfall, a path from this past week was still intact. Being in the shade before the lake has been the only downside.

No trips would be complete without the constant stops for photos. But the path let us move more efficiently. Later I put on snowshoes by the last talus field. There the snow wasn’t firm enough to continue in boots comfortably.

Surprise Creek log crossing
Surprise Creek log crossing

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Surprise Lake Basin

A packed trail and decent weather meant we wouldn’t be alone today. Before long, we went up the steep slopes below Surprise Lake. Later we enjoyed the lake view by the outlet.

Because of social distancing and the need for quiet, I didn’t want to stay here. So after a brief pause, we continued to Glacier Lake. So we made our own path and left the lake basin.

Nimbus Mountain through the trees
Nimbus Mountain through the trees

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Onward to Glacier Lake

Glacier Lake was only another mile away. So we went south on the ridgeline east of Surprise Lake. Even without a trail, we were still able to move quickly. During which, we passed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Junction.

Through the sometimes calf-deep snow, we reached the lake basin. But we continued south on the summer trail until we saw the camp sign. Then we went downhill and reached the eastern lakeshore shortly.

Surprise Lake in the shade
Glacier Lake below Surprise Mountain

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Solitude by Glacier Lake

We saw sunshine earlier down by Surprise Lake. Though, we didn’t feel the heat until after we reached Glacier Lake. So it was very much needed! Later we walked up to the north shore and settled there.

The Gray Jays welcomed us during our stay. I have yet to come here when it’s free of snow. The PCT goes by the lakes. So it wouldn’t surprise me that it gets hectic here in the high season.

Glacier Lake panoramic view
Glacier Lake panoramic view

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Back to Surprise Lake and Out

After a long break by the water, we left the sunshine behind us. Then we went back on the ridge and hiked back to Surprise Lake. But we continued down the basin without stopping by the water.

I didn’t check the clock. But we must’ve spent a long time at the lake since we reached Surprise Creek at sunset time. Then we got back to the car before getting out the headlamp.

Outro
Outro

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