Less celebrated than lakes in the Enchantments, but no less beautiful, Chain and Doelle Lakes are a must see for backpackers seeking solitude in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Hikers aiming for these lakes will also get to experience a section of one of the most famous trails in the country, the Pacific Crest Trail. Established as a national scenic route in 1968, the PCT now hosts thousands of hikers per year, hundreds of whom attempt to thru-hike the entire 2,600 miles from Mexico to Canada.
The trail starts from Stevens Pass on the PCT, switchbacking up the ridge and down the other side, over ski slopes, and under power lines. Quickly leaving civilization behind, the trail passes little Lake Susan Jane before you must turn onto the Icicle Creek Trail toward Josephine Lake. The trail follows Icicle Creek for several more miles, rolling gently through forests and meadows before reaching the turnoff to Chain Lakes.
Here the trail gets steep, gaining over 2,000 feet in the last 2 miles to the lakes. Loose dirt and rocks make this section a real challenge, but it is more than worth the effort once you reach the first of Chain Lakes. A staggeringly high ridge surrounds the lakes, and the craggy granite Bull's Tooth looms impressively as the highest point in sight at 6,800 feet. There are numerous places to camp on all three lakes, and you likely will not have much competition for space.
Continue another mile over a 6,200-foot pass to the even more remote Doelle Lakes for the most private camping experience, or make it a day trip. The views from the ridge are stunning; on a clear day you'll see the peaks of the Chiwaukum Mountains and Stuart Range in the distance and Doelle Lakes in the basin below.
Note that fires are not allowed at Chain and Doelle Lakes.