Nestled in a rocky basin high on Mount Daniel, Spade Lake is one of the least visited lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness due to it's distance from the nearest trailhead. Even so, it is worth the effort of hiking on some stretches of rough, steep trail to experience the serenity and see the rich turquoise water of this lonely lake. Since it is 13 miles from the trailhead, the hike to Spade Lake is best done as a day excursion from your camp at Waptus Lake.
From Salmon la Sac, the trail follows Waptus River to Waptus Lake, where there are several camping areas along the shore. The turnoff to Spade Lake is 9.4 miles from the trailhead, turning right from Waptus and immediately beginning the climb up to the ridge. Cross over the Pacific Crest Trail after a short distance, then continue hiking up the steep path and over numerous downed trees. Switchbacking only occasionally through the surrounding firs and hemlocks, the trail gains 2,000 feet in the first 2 miles before it levels off and skirts the ridge westward.
As you hike along the ridge, look down for fleeting but spectacular views of Waptus Lake below with Summit Chief and the craggy ridges of Bear's Breast Mountain behind it. In the distance and visible through tree gaps, a massive and clearly audible waterfall cascades down the cliffs from Spade Lake. Traverse through a final stretch of subalpine meadow before the lake comes into view, then pick your way over rocks to the secluded shores.