Summit Lake sits nestled in a small basin directly below the popular Grace Lakes basin on the western edge of the Stevens Pass Ski Area. This area gets a lot of attention from outdoor recreation clubs who use the convenient location to teach and practice a plethora of winter backcountry skills. It can also be an excellent place for beginners to build their confidence with cross-country snow travel.
The route shoves off from the ski area's southern and upper parking lot, where a short path climbs the slope into the tree cover. Find the groomed cat track here and head west to begin snowshoeing past several maintenance buildings and winter cabins. As a general guideline in snowshoeing etiquette, it's best to always give skiers and snowboarders the right-of-way by sticking to the edges of groomed runs. Take extra care to watch for swift downhill traffic within this first half mile, as the track winds through a dense fir corridor with a few blind corners. At almost a mile in, the forest gives way to a clearing where you would see the first of the tiny Grace Lakes if it didn't happen to be buried beneath the snow. From here, you can ascend the fluffy banks to explore the meadows where the other ponds reside, or resume the path that drops down a few hundred feet to the inviting north shore of Summit Lake.
Always check weather and avalanche reports before traveling into the backcountry. There are posted avalanche warning signs in the area.
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.