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    Spectacle Lake Trail

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    29.1 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    793 m
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    Directions to Trailhead
    Spectacle Lake Trail

    The aptly named Spectacle Lake is not easy to reach in a day, but it can certainly be done. This hard 29.0 km trail packs the distance in, but the trail is beautiful and the lake will make every step worth it. You can also make this into a backpacking trip. Expect moderate traffic on this route and a fairly easy trip until the last few intense miles.

    There are two ways to reach the lake. This route guide follows the more direct route from Owhi Campground, but hikers looking to backpack can also try the 41.8 km approach on Mineral Creek Trail or on the PCT from north or south.

    Come prepared for a big day with good boots, poles, and plenty of hydration and fuel. We recommend leaving this trip for good weather if you can.

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    Route Description for Spectacle Lake Trail

    Spectacle Lake is a spectacle indeed with the Chikamin Ridge spanning overhead. Making this remote little lake a gem to spend time at. It’s a beautiful lake but reaching it is no small task. You can do this trail as a long day hike or as a backpacking trip, but those wanting to do it in a day should be prepared for a long trek.

    The lake can be accessed a few different ways. This guide follows the shorter Pete Lake Trail from Owhi Campground, but you can also take the longer Mineral Creek Trail or reach it on the PCT. This trail is the way to go for day hikers- unless you’re up for a 41.8 km day.

    Begin from the northwest end of Cooper Lake near the campground, taking Pete Lake Trail away from the lake. The trail is fairly flat to begin with, but know that there are creek crossings that may be difficult after heavy rains. Bring some water shoes.

    You’ll reach Pete Lake four miles from the trailhead. Many backpackers stay here for the night. Continue on, where a mile later, you’ll come to Lemah Creek. This is the worst creek crossing of the trail. There is a log to cross with, or you can ford the creek, but know that the water can be very quick. Take your time and be careful. If it seems unsafe, either detour around the crossing (adds almost 4.8 km) or come back another day.

    You’ll quickly merge with the PCT after the creek. Walk through a fire-damaged area that leads to a section of switchbacks. Most of the elevation gain is ahead of you over the next mile or two, so prepare for a big push.

    Begin climbing, enjoying a brief pause on the bridge over the waterfall. Cresting the ridge, there is a junction where you’ll stay right. Looking down on Spectacle Lake, prepare for a bit of a messy descent to the lake. It’s rooty and steep, so take it carefully.

    Down at the lake, there are a few little trails you can take to reach various campsites. If you’re here for just a little while, pick a good spot to settle down and rest up.

    Once you’ve sufficiently enjoyed the views, retrace your steps back to the trailhead, taking care climbing up the steep lake access trail.

    Hiking Route Highlights

    Spectacle Lake

    The alpine Spectacle Lake is located just under the Chikamin Ridge in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It’s a very popular spot for hikers, backpackers, and fishers. The lake is almost 78 acres and is at an elevation of 1,300 m. Accessed via several different trails, it’s bound to be surrounded by at least a few adventurers most days of the summer.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is Spectacle Lake dog-friendly?

    Yes, dogs are permitted at the lake and on the trail to the lake.

    Can you camp at Spectacle Lake?

    Yes, there are several campsites near the lake. There are backcountry toilets available for campers.

    Can you fish at Spectacle Lake?

    Yes, you can fish at Spectacle Lake.

    Insider Hints for Spectacle Lake Trail

    • Remember your Northwest Forest Pass for this hike.
    • Bring a downloaded route and map, which can help if you need to detour the creek crossing.

    Getting to the Spectacle Lake Trail Trailhead

    The trailhead for the Spectacle Lake hike is off the end of the Owhi Campground Road near the northwestern end of Cooper Lake. There is parking here.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground

      Various sites

    • When to do


    • Pets allowed


    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Spectacle Lake Trail Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

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    Spectacle Lake Trail Reviews

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