Rachel Lake
Rachel Lake
Rachel Lake
Rachel Lake

Rachel Lake

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From Rachel Lake you can access further adventures at Rampart Lakes, Lila Lakes and Alta Peak. This hike is a popular weekend overnight destination; so don’t expect to be by yourself in high season.

The trail starts off heading uphill before you cross into the wilderness boundary. Some roots and rocks will be present, but it's just enough to get you warmed up. Once you cross the boundary into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the trail grade eases. You will cross numerous small feeder streams as you wind your way up Box Canyon. The trail alternates between sections of old-growth, primarily douglas fir and hemlock, and brushy avalanche meadows, where the trail is crowded by salmonberry, sword ferns and devil's club. If you hike this section after an overnight rain or a dewy morning, prepare to get your legs more than a little damp.

Two and three quarters of a mile in, the trail changes character. Cross Canyon Creek, the main stream you have been following up the valley and begin the earnest climb up to Rachel Lake. This section of trail is heavily rooted and rocky, with many large step-ups -- to call it a trail is being generous. Though you travel only a mile, you'll gain 1,200 vertical feet in this section. As you climb, you'll find distractions as you cross under a beautiful rock wall where one of the many small streams cascades down. Halfway up, you'll start getting great views down Box Canyon. There are a number of false trails along the way, most of which have been blocked off with crossed sticks. Consult your map often and take heart; it will all be worth it when you top out at Rachel Lake.

There are a number of campsites at the lake. Bearing right, the trail skirts the lake and then heads up an additional 600 vertical feet to Rampart Ridge. By comparison to what you just hiked, this section is in excellent shape--well constructed with switchbacks and no big step ups. There are fabulous views from the trail down to Rachel Lake. Half a mile gets you to the ridge where you can go left 1 mile to Rampart Lakes or right three-quarters of a mile to Lila Lakes and Alta Peak. There is a sign post (but missing the actual sign) at this junction. If you only have time for one add on, go to Rampart Lakes. Rampart Ridge is in the huckleberry zone, so there will be lots of good snacking in August and beautiful colors in mid-September.

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