Backpack to Circle Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Rate this Adventure Circle Lake Trailhead

Take in 360 degree mountain views along this 16-mile backpacking trip. The remote alpine lakes offer solitude and great places to camp near the in close proximity to the lake.

Start at the Cathedral Rock Trailhead and start to head up the long switchbacks. After running into the Trail Creek trail, keep right heading towards Cathedral Rock and Squaw Lake. There are a couple nice spots around Squaw Lake, about 2.5 miles in, to stop and have a snack. Now head around the lake and up a few more switchbacks. Soon you'll break into a nice alpine meadow with ponds right next to the trail.

Continuing to head onto the PCT and after going over the ridge you'll see a sign to the right for Peggy's Pond. Once at Peggy's Pond, about 3 miles from Squaw Lake, you can camp there or continue on to Circle Lake. Follow the small trails up behind the horseshoe shaped pond and then up the ridge to the left. Maneuvering across the side of the mountain and over the 3 or 4 crests and boulder fields, you'll follow sparse cairns through prime goat territory.

After about 2 more miles, the trail lets you out looking over the lake, nestled below Mt. Daniel. There are a few campsites around, but at the south end of the lake, there's a nice flat spot where we camped. Explore the alpine lake, enjoy the beautiful mountain views, or make yourself a well deserved cup of coffee!

Pack List

  • 10 Essentials
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Forest Service Pass
  • Camera
  • Sense of Adventure!
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RT Distance 16 Miles
Elevation Gain 2800 Feet
Activities Chillin, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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