Spade and Venus Lakes

Ronald, Washington

5.0/5
based on 6 reviews

Details

Distance

26.47 miles

Elevation Gain

2300 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Jason Zabriskie

Explore two of the most remote lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. If you're looking for solitude, you'll find it here. Plan for at least a 2-night, 3-day backpack trip.

Nestled in a high rocky cirque near the upper reaches of Mt Daniel, Spade and Venus Lakes are two of the most remote lakes in the Alpine Lake Wilderness. But to experience this level of pure isolation, you'll need to earn it; the shortest hike in to the lakes is 14 miles, the majority of which is on flat, mind-numbingly repetitive trail which seems to go on for hours (it does).

The trail starts at the Salmon La Sac Trailhead outside of Cle Elum, meandering on a tree-lined flat trail for six miles before starting to gain a small amount of elevation. You'll parallel Waptus River for the next few miles before having to remove your boots, roll up your pants and ford a shallow, slow moving section of the river at mile 8.

After drying your feet off and having a brief riverside snack, continue another mile to Waptus Lake. Here there are campsites galore, with beautiful views of the lake and mountains in the distance. Many backpackers choose to set up camp here, using this as basecamp for day trips to Spade and Venus Lakes. It's tempting, but if it's true alpine isolation you're after, tighten up your backpack straps and prepare for 4+ miles of steep, lung-busting terrain ahead.

You'll briefly cross the Pacific Crest Trail before you reach the official start of Spade Lake trail. It's a steep go at it for the next 1-1/2 miles before letting up slightly. For the next 2-1/2 miles, you'll continue to gain elevation as you approach the lakes. And then, just as you've cursed your last uphill section, there, in all her teal glory, will sit Spade Lake, with her surrounding granite slabs and stunning distant mountain tops.

If you've come this far with your backpack, it's time to set up camp, as this is where the camping is good. Due to the fragility of this high altitude area, it is recommended that people camp away from the lake and avoid meadows and other sensitive areas. And remember - campfires are prohibited in this and all areas above 5000 feet elevation in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Venus Lake, the uppermost alpine lake in the area, is still a good 2 mile scramble away. Follow a very faint boot path along the right side of the lake as you make your way to the opposite side of the lake. From there, stay to the right of the stream that runs down from above, scrambling on the slabby granite. The more rugged, scree-lined Venus Lake awaits above. Plan for 3-4 hours round trip from the start of Spade to fully explore the upper reaches of Venus Lake.

Aside from day hikers from Waptus Lake, you'll likely have this lake all to yourself. When the night comes, kickback under the stars and revel in what true isolation feels like.

When the adventure is done and you're feet are throbbing, stop in at The Brick - Washington's longest continuously operating bar (est. 1889) - in the town of Rosalyn for a well-earned beer and burger.

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Features

Camping
Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Lake
Scenic

Spade and Venus Lakes Reviews

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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