Surprise Lake + Glacier Lake by Stevens Pass / 驚喜湖

  • Reading time:4 mins read

Surprise Lake and Glacier Lake are within spitting distance of Highway 2 south of Stevens Pass. Perching above the west shore is two notable peaks, Surprise Mountain and Spark Plug Mountain. Plus, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness gems have long been a hikers’ favorite.

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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 perfect time to avoid the mass. We missed 2018 because of the weather. Then last year, we took the pupy on a snow-free hike.

It was exciting to be back here despite the freezing temperatures. This time, 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 usually snows during the holiday. So we’ve had to carve out a trail in fresh powder. But even with the recent snowfall, a path from this past week was still intact. The only downside was being in the shade en route to the lakes.

No trips would be complete without the constant stops for photos. But having a path to follow lets us move efficiently. I put on snowshoes by the last rock field as the snow wasn’t too soft to continue in boots comfortably.

Surprise Creek log crossing
Surprise Creek log crossing

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Surprise Lake Basin

Having a packed trail and decent weather meant we likely wouldn’t be alone today. Before long, we made our way up the steep hill below Surprise Lake. Soon, we were by the outlet enjoying the lake view.

Because of social distancing and wanting to enjoy more quietness, I decided to keep going. So after a brief pause by the boulders, we left for Glacier Lake. Then we made a path through to the upper 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 as we went south over the ridgeline east of Surprise Lake. Even without a trail, we were able to move quickly. During this, we passed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) junction.

Through the sometimes calf-deep snow, we soon reached the lake basin. But we kept going south on the summer trail to the camp sign. From there, 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

See more trip photos here.

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