Chain Lakes

OutAndBack • 22 mi • 0 ft

Don’t let the dog roam too far ahead on this trail—he could run all the way to Mexico without leaving the path. That’s right, Mexico. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) runs 2600 miles from Canada to Mexico along the spine of the Cascades, and this hike uses a chunk of that grand interstate trail to get you and your pooch into some of the most awesome high country of the Cascades. You may not believe that right off the bat—the trail begins by climbing the slopes of a developed ski area—but as you leave the resort behind you’ll climb into high alpine meadows and pass some of the most beautiful wilderness lakes you’ll find anywhere.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Scenic
Length: 22 total miles
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: 4
Duration: 2 days minimum
Season: Mid-July through early October
Other Uses: Dogs must be leashed on this trail.
Local Contacts: Wenatchee National Forest
Local Maps: Green Trails Stevens Pass No. 176
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The Forest service road to the trailhead is closed for repair until January 2010 at the earliest.


Okay, yes, the dogs loved this hike. Probably only because they didn't remember puking on the way there and were konked out on the way home. It's a wide open, easy trail. Almost too easy at points and gets kind of boring. And I'm shocked that no one here has mentioned yet the HORRIBLE 12 mile pot-hole filled semi-paved road you have to drive to get to it. I drive a pretty big 2007 Tacoma, and I was still scared sh*tless that I was going to completely screw up my alignment or snap an axle. These weren't like six inch potholes. Some were, but every other one was maybe 18-24 inches deep. Yeah, no joke. It took us nearly an hour to drive that 12 miles. Just be forwarned. It was beautiful, but we're never going back because of that road. You'll see what I mean if you go - it's not like most dirt roads with gradual dips and soft edge pot holes. These will jar you. Okay, I'll get off it now :)


I'd just like to update the directions. The trail guide's directions don't include whether to go left or right at the exit ramp. You want to go left (even though the sign for Edgewick road points to the right). We went right and ended up getting lost, but finding a different, but nice, hike to go on that day.


I read that this trail was open year-round, so my wife and I tried to hike it but you couldn't get within a mile of the trailhead because of the snow. I'll try again in late spring I guess!


We hiked to the first bridge (about 6 miles round trip). The trails are clear although seriously rocky at the start. There was a lot of people out that day, but generally had our stretch of trail to ourselves. I can't wait to do it again this weekend. We're going to camp over this time.


Nice trail - little rocky but minimal elevation gain, didn’t even feel like it was 10 miles RT. We encountered some blow-downs but could easily climb over. Beautiful waterfalls along the way make the trip well worth it – make sure to stop by Lipsy Lake and Otter Falls. Great opportunity for an enjoyable and relatively easy stroll.


This was a very nice hike - perhaps a bit too long. The trail is pretty rocky and a little painful on the trip back to the car. The small spring type falls all along the trail were quite beautiful and fun to play in! We went up to the Otter Falls and that was wonderful and great sit by and relax for a bit. If there is a chance of rain - I would pass because if you get caught in a downpour - it could be hard to get back to the car quickly. A lovely area and looking forward to getting back there soon - on a nice day. It would be great on a nice fall day too!


I hiked this trail in early spring and was not impressed, given the level of hype this trail has gotten. There were several places where there used to be small bridges, that proved to be more dangerous than anything, rotting away, or having been swept away by high streams. At one point, the trail has been completely taken out by a landslide, but you can still get across it with some difficulty on all fours in the mud. (not recommended for kids). Trying to find the trail also proved very difficult. The forest service road signs were non-existent, but the posts they used to be attached to were still there. After getting somewhat lost, I just settled for the next trailhead I came to, which was called Snoqualmie Lake. I didn't know they were the same trail until I came across Big Creek Falls, and recognized it from the picture in "Best Hikes with Dogs in Western Washington." (a great book, by the way.) The last trail report was from last september, so it is obvious that the trail is not at all maintained through the winter. Perhaps the summer will yield a better experience. Despite all of this, the scenery was absolutely fantastic, and the solitude was unmatched among dayhikes. One last note, although you could stop at the falls, and come back from there, the dogs and I continued on toward Snoqualmie Lake. After several miles of tredging though knee deep, melting snow without the proper gear, we set up camp on the next piece of dry ground available, and came back the next morning, so I still have yet to see this lake.


The directions in the source book "Best Hikes with Dogs - Western Washington" was confusing and not entirely accurate. But the trail was pretty easy to find. We went on a rainy day and found two cars at the parking lot with one leaving. The trailhead mentions Snoqualmie Lake as the destination at 8 miles and Otter Falls, but nothing about Big Creek falls, which is really just a site along the trail - so don't be confused, you are on the right trail. The trail itself is an easy slope along a road. For the most part if feels like you're walking along a road. It's pretty heavily forested with few or no views before Big Creek (as far as I went). Parts are very rocky and after a long rain there were many stream crossings. Big Creek Falls is definately spectacular and worth a hike. The bridge over the falls is a nice place to lunch (unless it's raining) and turn back for an enjoyable day hike (10 miles round trip). Be sure you go off the main trail to sese Otter Falls - it's awesome. It can be a little hard to find, but it's on the North side of the trail (left on the way up) and marked by a small cairn. The "path" works its way up the hill and to the right - a little hard to see. You drop back down a small bushy hill to Lipsy Lake at the base of the falls. Wow, if it was only dry and hot when we were there! Summary: Easy hike, though long for beginners. We took 3.5 hours round trip, the book says 5. Possibly good winter hike as it's low elevation.


This was a great day hike. At times, because of the moss covered roots, trees and rocks, it was almost like walking through a rain forest. Marten Falls, that carved its way thru the stone were beautiful, amazing! And luckily we were able to boulder hop acrossed to the other side since the Marten Creek Bridge was being rebuilt. We could see where many creeks crossed the trail during the spring and during heavy rain, crossing the creeks would add some interest/entertainment to the hike. We arrived at Big Creek Falls and they were quite amazing. A big cement bridge is at the base, so you really don't get the 'nature moment', but impressive none the less. We side tripped up to Otter Falls and Lipsy Lake, not impressive, save that for a Spring day when there's more water coming over the falls.

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