Backpack to Upper Wildcat Lake

Rate this Adventure Washington Snow Lake Trail

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Avoid the crowd at Snow Lake and continue to more secluded lakes with a peaceful campsite at Upper Wildcat. Rumor has it there’s good fishing up there too!

Although this hike is possible if you’re looking for an all-day training hike, it’s much more enjoyable if it’s an overnight backpacking trip.

Head up the trail past Snow Lake toward Gem Lake. En route to Snow Lake will be a little crowded, but should lighten significantly as you continue hiking. The hike from Snow to Gem Lake is relatively level with only a few fluctuations. Once you get to Gem Lake at about 5 miles, you may want to stop for a quick break to grab a snack and refill water if needed. From here, you’ll hike around to the backside of the lake and start dropping almost 1,000 feet covering many switchbacks. Once you’ve done the full descent, it’s a flat stretch to Lower Wildcat Lake. Don’t get too excited about the campsite here, the campsite at Upper Wildcat is pretty amazing.

To get to to Upper Wildcat, look for the sign from the Lower Wildcat campsite, which will lead you to the trail toward Upper Wildcat. This stretch of the trail is about 0.5 miles with a gain of roughly 400 feet.

Once you're up to Upper Wildcat, set up camp and enjoy the peacefulness. You may even have the place to yourself.

Pack List

  • Northwest Forest Pass
  • Camera
  • Hiking Boots
  • Lightweight Jacket
  • Hiking Shorts / Pants
  • Water
  • Water Filter
  • Stove
  • Backpack
  • Utensils
  • Tent
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Activities:

Camping, Backpacking

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

15 Miles

Elev. Gain:

4600 Feet

Features:

Dog Friendly
Forest
Lake

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Added by Scott Kranz

Full-time commercial and editorial photographer specializing in outdoor sports, lifestyle, landscapes, and travel photography.

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