Backpack Tuck and Robin Lakes
Washington › Deception Pass Trailhead
Added by Jason Zabriskie
- Like the Enchantments, without the permit requirement... yet
- Fields of endless granite
- Three stunning alpine lakes
- In-your-face views of Mt. Daniel and Cathedral Rock
- Mountain goat sightings
- 16 miles round trip - 3,000 feet of elevation gain, nearly all in the last 4 miles
- Can be done as a day hike (a long one) if you get an early start
- Best hiked July thru mid-October
Robin Lakes have been coined "The Little Enchantments", and once you visit, you'll realize the nickname is strikingly accurate. But while the hike up is no Aasgard Pass, it's far from a walk in the park.
When you leave the car at the end of the pothole-ridden Salmon La Sac forest service road, you've got an easy-on-the-way-in, seemingly endless on the way out, 3 mile flat stretch of trail along Hyas Lake before starting your climb towards Deception Pass. The well-marked trail for Tuck and Robin veers off a 1/2 mile before reaching the pass and the real climbing begins.
The haul up to Tuck Lake is grueling, with steep switchbacks and over 1,000 feet of elevation in a mile. You'll be tempted to drop the pack and set up camp along Tuck when you arrive, but don't give in - the best is yet to come. Rest, have a snack, even take a nap, but don't stay the night here - Robin Lakes are the real jewel.
It starts by dropping over a knoll and crossing a log jam. At that point cairns become your best friend, as the trail turns mostly to granite. Follow the cairns as you ascend up the next 1.5 miles. As you cross the outlet of Robin Lakes the path becomes a large granite slab and the cairns meander across the slab and upward. You may be ready to call it quits with your calves and hamstrings burning, but the end is almost near.
When you reach the saddle, take a moment to soak in the sea of granite, the stunning lakes and the jaw-dropping backdrop of Cathedral Rock and Mt. Daniel. It's that view, and it's similarities to the Enchantments, that brings the hordes on sunny weekends in the summer months. There are many campsites that surround the lakes, each with an equally unique and photo worthy view - be sure to nab one before they're all gone.
With mountain goats frequent visitors, Granite Mountain up above and trails leading every which way, there's tons to see and explore once you arrive. You've found a little un-permitted slice of paradise in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Of note: bugs are particularly terrible from early July through late August. If you want to experience the beauty without the swarms of insects, September is your ideal month. But don't expect the golden glow of larches, as they are few and far between in this area. Also, dogs are allowed. Fires are not.
- Northwest Forest Parking Pass
- Sturdy, grippy soled hiking boots or approach shoes
- Backcountry camping gear. Bring that warm sleeping bag and puffy as it'll get chilly at just under 7,000 feet.
- Water purification system
- Bug spray if you come anytime in July or August
- And don't forget that camera and tripod!
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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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ReviewsLeave a Review
Very Hard, Very Cool
Incredibly tough hike, especially if you are backpacking and carrying all your overnight gear. First 3 miles are easy, next 2 are medium. The next 3 will test you, especially the final 1.2 miles to Robin Lakes. We went up in 1 day, stayed the night, and came down the next day. However, everyone we talked to on the trail said they hiked to Tuck Lake, stayed there overnight, then continued to Robin as either a day hike or their destination for that night, as they were too tired to continue all the way to Robin in one day. I don't blame them! Robin Lakes are beautiful, though. Some snow still in late July. Tons of cutthroat trout in the lake. Tons of mountain goats in the area as well. Definitely a great spot, just get there early if you're planning to camp, not too many campsites at Robin.
Tuck Lake in September
This is definitely not a hike for the faint of heart! The last few miles can give even the most experienced of hikers a run for their money (especially if you're backpacking in and carrying extra weight). After a few miles of switchbacks and steepening terrain, the last half mile or so turns into a high rock scramble. It's a tough and steep half mile, but not impossible! You can turn around at any point and witness the vastness of the area you're hiking. Overall, totally worth the effort. The lake itself is so clean and refreshing, not to mention beautiful. It's nestled into a nice little bowl, making it protected and calm, but you can quickly scramble up any side to stunning, sweeping mountain views. There's plenty of room for camping, but you definitely will not be alone. This is a popular spot pretty much every weekend in the summer and fall, so get up there early if you want a prime spot! It's very close to continue on to Robin lake, which is great for a weekend backpacking trip. We received one of the most amazing sunsets to date while sitting up on the high rocks above Tuck, drinking tea and chatting one September evening.
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