Located on the east side of the Cascades in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Eightmile Lake boasts dry snow and solitude. The approach is long, but the route finding is simple, as half the mileage is on a closed Forest Service road that holds a packed skin-track all winter long.
Many skiers come to Eightmile Lake for the steep couloirs and chutes that surround the lake, but there are also many gentle glades and playful pillow lines in the area. The south side of the lake holds some great lines, and the most prominent is a north-facing chute that drops over 2,000 feet and is visible once you reach the lake.
After driving to the end of the beautiful Icicle Creek Road, start up FS-7601 for 3.0 miles before reaching the Eightmile Lake Trailhead. From here, veer right (west) above the creek. After passing a grove of large ponderosa pines, meet up with what appears to be a old skid-road turned summertime trail. Staying along the north side of the valley allows for easy route finding and clear views of the valley ahead. There are a few avalanche paths along the way.
After reaching Little Eightmile Lake, bushwhack through a dog-hair stand of ponderosa pine before reaching Eightmile Lake. From here your opportunities are endless, as gentle glades can be found at the entrance to the lake and burlier lines are found on the flanks of the surrounding peaks.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.