Alpine Lakes Backpack
Immerse yourself in a wilderness of alpine lakes, meadows, glaciers, and stunning Cascade peaks
The Alpine Lakes area is the jewel of the Central Cascades! This trip takes you through beautiful terrain to serene lakes and meadows, as well as a glimpse into the alpine with a short side trip to Dip Top Peak. With moderate elevation gain and optional side trips (Dip Top Peak and Pacific Crest Trail back to Trailhead), this trek caters to a wide range of abilities and has something for everyone.
- Spectacular wilderness close to Seattle. No access problems.
- Porter assistance to keep pack weight as light as possible.
- Learn new wilderness and backpacking skills while hiking.
- Options to scramble to summit of peak and follow the Pacific Crest Trail.
- Nothing like a refreshing swim is beautiful surroundings
The central Cascade Mountains of Washington State is home to the amazing Alpine Lakes Wilderness. While just a short distance from major cities the Alpine Lakes provide otherworldly beauty, deep old growth forests and stunning peaks all set among the namesake lakes and streams of the area. Major highways bisect the Cascades providing easy access from Seattle.
We will meet in Seattle and after an equipment check we will drive a couple of hours to the trailhead. To help keep your pack weight down we will have a porter to carry the tents for the group. This should keep your pack weight down to a manageable 30 pounds or so.
Daily trail mileage is moderate with days 1 and 3 about 8 miles and day 2 a little more than half that. While the central Cascades are not particularly high, trails do ascend many feet as they wind up and down ridges. Hikers need to be in good condition and prepared to ascend almost 3,000 feet daily.
The long summer days allow our group to move at a comfortable pace with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery as well as relax in camp. We will also have time to build your wilderness skills along the way.
Day 2 is a short trail mileage day and has several options including scrambling to the summit of Dip Top Peak. This is a fun, non-technical, ascent. No climbing experience required. Awesome views from the summit.
Our final day has an option to follow the world ‑famous Pacific Crest Trail which goes from Mexico to Canada along the crest of the Sierras and Cascades. This is a great opportunity to hike along one of the most famous trails in the world.
Alpine Lakes Backpack
$975 – 3 Days
- Guide services
- Ground transportation
- All meals while on the mountain
- Cook kits
- Group climbing equipment
Price Does Not Include
- Transportation within Seattle
- Hotel accommodations
- Restaurant meals
- All personal equipment
- Travel insurance with trip cancellation, medical and evacuation policy
- Guide gratuities
- $400 deposit at time of registration, which includes a $200 non-refundable registration fee
- Balance due 90 days prior to departure
- The balance can be paid by check, wire transfer, ACH or credit card with a 3% convenience fee
Alpine Lakes Backpack 2021
- Sep 25, 2021 — Sep 26, 2021 - Larch Season Special Spots Remaining
- Oct 9, 2021 — Oct 10, 2021 - Larch Season Special Spots Remaining
Alpine Lakes Backpack 2022
- Jul 6, 2022 — Jul 8, 2022
- Aug 16, 2022 — Aug 18, 2022
- Sep 24, 2022 — Sep 25, 2022
- Oct 8, 2022 — Oct 9, 2022
Alpine Lakes Backpack 2023
- Jul 5, 2023 — Jul 7, 2023
- Aug 15, 2023 — Aug 17, 2023
- Sep 23, 2023 — Sep 24, 2023
- Oct 7, 2023 — Oct 8, 2023
Custom Dates Available — Contact Us
Cancellation / Refund Policy
- MMI strongly recommends trip cancellation/interruption and evacuation insurance for all trips. Our insurance partner, Ripcord, offers comprehensive travel insurance including trip cancellation, as well as rescue/evacuation policies and can assist in answering any questions. In addition, Participant is expected to have sufficient medical insurance as prescribed by their country of origin. Participant understands that MMI does not include anytype of insurance with the cost of the trip.
- If you decide to cancel your trip or change your itinerary, MMI must be notified in writing. Your trip will be cancelled from the date written notice is received. If proper written cancellation notice is not received, amounts paid and reservations made will be forfeited.
- Non-refundable fees may apply for certain trips in order to secure permits and other services. MMI must strictly adhere to cancellation policies outside MMI’s control.
- Due to the personalized service we offer on our trips, MMI reserves the right to waive any fees. We will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations, waiving certain fees when feasible.
- Circumstances outside the control of MMI and its partners, may require amended cancellation/refund policies. Such circumstances may include, but are not limited to COVID-19, natural disasters, terrorism and so forth.
- Full refund, less the non-refundable registration fee, will be provided 91 days or more before the departure date
- No refunds will be provided 90 days or less before the departure date
We strongly recommend the purchase of travel cancellation insurance to protect you from the unexpected. You aren’t likely to think of it now, but people do get ill, break a bone, have a family emergency or get assigned to a last-minute business trip. If you are in remote areas, please note that emergency rescue & evacuation can be very expensive.
We also strongly urge you to consider rescue and evacuation insurance if your own policy does not provide the coverage needed. Services available may include, but are not limited to, helicopter evacuation, medical care, etc.
If you choose not to purchase insurance, you assume full responsibility for any expenses incurred in the event of a medical emergency and/or evacuation, as well as for trip cancellation, interruption, lost luggage, etc. We are not the experts and therefore ask that you please consult our travel insurance partner directly with any specific questions.
To protect against losses due to illness, accident, or other unforeseen circumstances, Mountain Madness strongly recommends the purchase of travel insurance as soon as possible after making a deposit. Mountain Madness has partnered with Redpoint Resolutions as our preferred travel insurance provider. Redpoint’s Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ is designed for adventurers.
For a quote, or to purchase travel insurance, please click this link Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ or call +1 – 415-481‑0600. Pricing varies based on age, trip cost, trip length, and level of coverage.
Critical benefits of Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance include:
- A completely integrated program with a single point of contact for emergency services, travel assistance, and insurance claims
- Evacuation and rescue services from your point of injury or illness to your hospital of choice
- Comprehensive travel insurance for trip cancellation/interruption, primary medical expense coverage, baggage loss or delay, emergency accident and emergency sickness medical expense, emergency dental, accidental death and dismemberment, and more
- Optional security evacuation coverage in case of an unplanned natural disaster or other security events
- Waiver for pre-existing conditions (must be purchased within 14 days of tour deposit)
- Optional “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage (must be purchased within 14 days of tour deposit)
For scheduled courses and climbs, you should fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac). You are responsible for your transportation to downtown Seattle. You will meet as a group with your guide(s) early morning on Day 1 for an orientation meeting and equipment check.
Alpine Lakes Hike/Run Day by Day
Trailhead to Marmot Lake
Ascent: 2,700ft / 823m
Hiking Distance: 8.5mi / 13.7km
After going through a quick equipment check, we will drive from Seattle to the Deception Pass Trailhead (approx 2.5hrs). From the Tuquala Meadows Trailhead the trail moves gently up hill through forests to Hyas Lake. From there the grade begins to steepen towards Deception Pass. At the top of the pass you will be greeted with views of alpine peaks before descending down towards our final destination for the day, Marmot Lake.
Jade Lake and Dip Top Peak
Ascent: 2,760ft / 841m
Hiking Distance: 4.8mi / 7.7km
There will be multiple options for Day 2 of the trip. A short walk up hill is Jade Lake, another beautiful alpine destination. And for those feeling more adventurous, there will be a chance to scramble Dip Top Peak which is just beyond the lake. With a few short 3rd class sections, Dip Top makes for a great addition to the hike with no previous climbing experience necessary.
Marmot Lake to Trailhead
Ascent: 1,133ft / 345m
Hiking Distance: 8.5mi / 13.7km
After a leisurely morning we break down camp and make our way back towards the trailhead. With only two short climbs out of camp, we head down hill towards Hyas lake and the cars just beyond. Plan on being back in Seattle by the early evening.
Day 3 Optional
Marmot Lake to Trailhead via PCT
Ascent: 2,880ft / 878m
Hiking Distance: 12.91mi / 20.76k
There is an option to experience a short section of the world famous Pacific Crest Trail in stead of descending the way the group came past Hyas Lake. This route will climb slightly back into the alpine towards Mt Daniel. When below the spectacular rock formation Cathedral Rock, the trail will trend back down hill. From there 4‑miles of down hill travel past Squaw Lake will lead you back to our starting point at the trailhead.
Equipment for Alpine Lakes Backpack
Large capacity climbing pack (65-75L)
approximately 4000-4500 cubic inch (65-75 liters) capacity, avoid unnecessary options that add weight
Black Diamond Mission 75, Osprey Ariel 65
Sleeping pad (inflatable)
Full length inflatable. When sleeping on snow make sure to purchase pad rated to do so
Sleeping pad (foam)
Closed cell foam 3/4 or full length. This pad is used in conjunction with the first pad
Expedition quality sleeping bag (15-20F)
One down or synthetic bag rated from 15-20°F /-9 to -7°C
Marmot Helium, Marmot Trestles, Western Mountaineering Apache, North Face Guide 20
Adjustable trekking poles
Three piece poles recommended
Black Diamond Trail Back Pole
Traction devices that fit over hiking boots. Useful in snow near summit. Not always used, but handy to have.
Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System
Head and Face
Fleece or wool hat
It must cover the ears
Shade hat or baseball cap
A visor hat with a good brim is essential for protection from the sun
Mountain Madness trucker hat
Bandanas or neck gaiter
Various uses, i.e. cleaning glasses, sun protection when tied around the neck, etc. We have our own Mountain Madness neck gaiter available for purchase!
Mountain Madness neck gaiter
Essential eye protection whether in the tropics or by the water. Look for 100% UVA/UVB protection. Consider bringing a spare pair
Two pairs thin fleece or synthetic
Black Diamond Punisher Glove
Liner socks (optional)
1-pair lightweight and thin
polypropylene or wool
Syntheric or wool socks
check boot fir to make sure they work together
Light hiking boots or trail shoes
For acclimatization hikes
Salomon X-Ultra 3 Mid, Merrell Moab, La Sportiva Boulder Ex
Light trail shoes, camp booties, or sandals (optional)
Trail shoes for when at campgrounds and booties/sandals/Crocs for basecamps when weather and season allow
Two synthetic or merino wool t-shirts. No cotton!
Long-sleeved Base Layer
Two lightweight to mediumweight, pull-over is best
Two, synthetic, no cotton!
Softshell Jacket w/ hood
This is what you will be wearing while hiking at higher altitudes or while kicking around camps at lower altitude. This jacket should be full-zip
Outdoor Research Ferrosi
Hardshell jacket w/ hood
A good jacket made of Gore-Tex (recommended) or waterproof nylon, roomy enough to fit over multiple layers
Outdoor Research Foray, Patagonia Triolet
Sun hoody (optional)
This piece with a high SPF rating and lightweight fabric offers protection from high altitude sun
Down or synthetic jacket w/hood
This is your most important piece of warm gear and will mean the difference between an enjoyable climb or a miserable one. A warm, full zip jacket with hood is recommended and ideal
Helly Hansen Vanir, Feathered Friends Volant, Marmot Guide’s Down Hoody, Outdoor Research Virtuoso Hoody
Adequate supply for the entire climb
Long base layer
Two pairs light or mediumweight
Softshell pants are water resistant, yet highly breathable and durable. Great for colder conditions over a pair of long underwear or tights higher on the mountain or summit day
Outdoor Research Voodoo, Mountain Hardwear Touren, Patagonia Guide
One pair of quick-drying shorts. Good for hiking at lower elevations on the mountain
Bathing suit (optional)
lightweight and packable
Pocket knife or multitool
Simple Swiss Army type with scissors. Make sure you transport in checked bag, not carry-on!
Bring extra batteries!
Personal first aid kit (NW)
moleskin/blister kit, Band-aids, athletic tape, ibuprofen, personal medications, ect
Must have SPF rating of 20 or more. Bring two just in case!
Bring plenty of sun block with SPF of 40 or more. It's easy to underestimate the amount necessary for your trip!
Water bottles with insulators
Two one-liter wide-mouthed plastic bottles
Hydration bladder (optional)
hydration bladder or water bag with drinking tube (must also have 1 Nalgene Bottle or equivalent)
Steri Pen, Potable Aqua, Polar Pure crystal iodine. Purifies drinking water while on the climb. this will only be necessary as a back-up.
Large plastic bowl
Bring a 2-4 cup camping bowl or a plastic "Rubbermaid" style container for your mountain dining
plastic with lid (optional use; as your bowl)
Lexan spoon or spork
Lightweight and strong
Bring your favorite snacks and power/energy bars or if there is something else you particularly like to eat while hiking and climbing
Water purification (NW)
Purifies drinking water while on the climb
Steri Pen, Potable Aqua, Polar Pure crystal iodine
Spare contacts and glasses
Contacts can be a problem in dusty conditions, so make sure you have your back-up glasses with you. Glasses wearers should have a spare set
To block out snoring and other noise to ensure a good night's sleep
A small pack or two anti-bacterial are great for general hygiene
Hand sanitizing liquid drops
Toiletry kit (NW)
toilet paper stored in double zip lock bags
Large plastic bags
heavy duty trash compactor bags recommended
Nylon stuff sacks
for food and gear storage, large ziplocs are useful
Phone with camera, and/or separate camera. Bring extra batteries and memory!
If you want to charge your electronics along the way, a small, lightweight solar panel to charge batteries or portable charging device may be a good addition
or any sort of device that takes pictures
Comfortable clothing for travel before and after the expedition
Alpine Lakes Backpack
Cumulative Elevation Gain
Standard Route: 3840ft / 1170m
Optional Dip Top Peak Day: 2760ft / 841m
Optional PCT Exit: 2877ft / 877m
Standard Route: 17 miles / 27km
Optional Dip Top Peak Day: 4.8 miles / 7.7km
Optional PCT Exit: 12.9 miles / 20.8km
Client to Guide Ratio
Trekking involves 4-5 hours of walking per day with an elevation gain of up to 1,000 feet / 305 meters. You should be in good physical shape and participating in 3-4, 1-hour minimum cardiovascular workouts per week before the trek. Participants are encouraged to walk several hours or more a week leading up to the trek.