Day Hike to Lake Ingalls

Washington Lake Ingalls Trail

Added by Jason Horstman

  • Great Fall colors - larch trees!
  • Amazing views of Mt. Stuart (and Mt. Rainier on a clear day)
  • Plenty of room at the lake to eat lunch
  • Colorful meadows en route to the lake
  • Camping areas for backpackers
  • Length: 9 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation gain: 2500 ft

From the parking lot you start out on an old miners road that leads to the trail. Keep right at the first fork (left lead to Esmeralda Basin), then in about 2 miles, go left at the next fork (right leads to Ingalls Pass). The trail will climb steadily as you continue. In about another mile you will reach a nice viewpoint where you get stunning views of Esmeralda Peak and Mount Rainier in the background (on a clear day), and just over the hill you will see Mount Stuart and the valley of larch trees below. From here continue to the left where you will descend into a small rock field. Just beyond that you'll reach a gorgeous meadow filled with larch trees and ponds, eventually ascending again over a field of boulders before you drop down to the lake. Once at the lake, there is plenty of room atop the numerous boulders and rock formations to enjoy a nice lunch and gaze at the astounding Mount Stuart in the backdrop.

Pack List

  • Ten Essentials
  • Plenty of water since trail is mostly dry
  • Northwest Forest Pass
  • Camera
  • Tent and sleeping bag if camping
  • Hiking poles
Read More

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



Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



9 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2500 Feet




Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

almost 2 years ago

During larch season this is a killer hike for scenery. Try to get there before sunrise to catch the sun as it comes up in Headlight Basin. Bonus, you avoid most of the people who arrive later and get the lake practically to yourself for awhile.

almost 2 years ago

More Adventures Nearby

Hike Mount Catherine

Washington / Mount Catherine Trailhead

Start off on the extremely rough Forest Service 9070 road. Follow this for just over 4 miles until you see a sign for trail #1348 on the right.

Bryan Carroll
31 Saves

Hike to Gem Lake

Washington / Snow Lake Trailhead

The trail to Gem Lake lies along the same trail that passes by the incredibly popular Snow Lake.

Shelby Pothier
24 Saves

Hike to Elk Pass via "the Knife"

Washington / Snowgrass Flat Trailhead

This is a rather long out and back, however, it can also be done as a backpack, which would give you more time to explore the Goat Rocks Wilderness, which is highlighted in other Adventures.

Isaac Desautels
20 Saves