Kelcema Lake

North Cascades, Washington

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Kelcema Lake


  • Gate at the parking area for Kelcema Lake.- Kelcema Lake
  • First turns on the way to Kelcema Lake.- Kelcema Lake
  • Second-growth forest.- Kelcema Lake
  • First mountainous viewpoint.- Kelcema Lake
  • The road to the Bonanza Queen Mine property.- Kelcema Lake
  • Continuing through the forest.- Kelcema Lake
  • Nearing the one and only switchback.- Kelcema Lake
  • Devils Peak (5,456') lies to the east.- Kelcema Lake
  • Crossing Dear Creek near the Kelcema Lake Trailhead.- Kelcema Lake
  • Exiting Dear Creek Road at the summer trailhead.- Kelcema Lake
  • Following the Kelcema Lake Trail.- Kelcema Lake
  • Passing a large cedar.- Kelcema Lake
  • Following Dear Creek up the final half mile.- Kelcema Lake
  • Looking up at some fungi.- Kelcema Lake
  • Looking back down Deer Creek.- Kelcema Lake
  • On the eastern shore of Kelcema Lake.- Kelcema Lake
  • Edging around the lake shore.- Kelcema Lake
  • Looking south across the lake at Bald Mountain (4,780').- Kelcema Lake
  • Looking east toward the mouth of the basin.- Kelcema Lake
  • The eastern view from Kelcema Lake.- Kelcema Lake
  • The north shore of Kelcema Lake.- Kelcema Lake
  • Frozen fir tree bark.- Kelcema Lake
  • Views of the nearby peaks from the switchback on the way out.- Kelcema Lake
  • Closer view of the nearby peaks.- Kelcema Lake
  • Final view looking west down the valley.- Kelcema Lake
  • - Kelcema Lake
Overview + Weather
Non-motorized recreation. Old mining area. Frozen lake basin.
Sometimes crowded at the trailhead.
North Cascades, WA
Pets allowed: 
Groomed trail: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,900.00 ft (579.12 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Total Distance: 
9.00 mi (14.48 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,240.00 ft (377.95 m)
Typically multi-day: 
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description


If you are looking to snowshoe or cross-country ski in a beautiful and secluded lake basin during even the worst avalanche conditions, Kelcema Lake is for you. While certainly not remote, Kelcema Lake is a worthy winter destination and a great workout that provides a sense of accomplishment during those meager months when few trailheads are accessible. Though the majority of the route winds mildly up a forest service road, you can count on peace and quiet through to the spring snow-melt thanks to seasonal restrictions that allow for non-motorized recreation only.

The winter trailhead is located directly off the Mountain Loop Highway where Deer Creek Road begins and the plowed pavement ends. After gearing up, make your way past the occasionally crowded sledding area through the open gate. You immediately become wrapped in thick second-growth forest while warming up for the first mile before catching an open glimpse of Bald Mountain looming further up the valley. Continue above Deer Creek for another mile past a gated road that leads to the 300-acre Bonanza Queen Mine property, which was purchased from the Auker family in 2000 by the U.S. Forest Service to preserve critical salmon habitat.

The next 2 miles provide some steeper elevation gain and increasingly grand views of jagged Devils Peak to the east and Big Four Mountain and Sperry and Vesper peaks down the valley to the south. At 4 miles from your vehicle, a bridge leads over Deer Creek to the open Kelcema Lake summer trailhead. Exit the road here into a meadow while staying to the right of Deer Creek. The hiking corridor will be obvious at times, passing by several burley trees as it leads up to the creek outlet and lake basin. The eastern (and conveniently closest) shore offers many lovely open spaces for taking in the scenery. A massive snow-covered boulder on the north shore can be safely climbed for fun views back toward the mouth of the basin.  

Note: Stay alert for holes and unstable snow when traveling near creek beds.

Recommended Gear

Before you head out on your next Mount Hood adventure, make sure you have the right gear! 

Here's a list of our go-to snowshoeing essentials to get you started:

Snowshoes: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

Cushioned, Made in USA, Ultralight, 98.8 oz

Men's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Jacket/Shell: Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket

Waterproof, Adjustable Drawcord Hem, Pit Zips, GORE-TEX

Men's • $431-475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Pack: Mammut Nirvana Pro Pack 

35L, Carry-On Size, Hip Belt, Ice Axe / Pole Loops, Hydration Compatible

Standard Fit • $189.95-199.95 • Mammut | Amazon | Backcountry

Small Fit • $199.95 • Mammut | Amazon

Insulating Layer: Moosejaw Dequindre Down Jacket

Water-resistant, Insulated, Adjustable Drawcord Hem

Men's and Women's • $179

Poles: Black Diamond Traverse Pole 

Aluminum, Adjustable with Lever Lock System, 21 oz.

$79.95 • Black Diamond | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Gloves: The North Face GORE-TEX Gloves

Waterproof, Adjustable, Insulated, GORE-TEX

Men's • $99.95-181.63 • The North Face | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $99.95-100.00 • The North Face | Backcountry

Boots: Vasque Snowblime UltraDry Boot

Waterproof, Cushioned, Insulated

Men's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Gaiters: Outdoor Research Verglas Gaiter 

Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight, Abrasion-resistant

Men's • $41.32-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $49.95-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Backcountry Safety

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.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

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Field Guide + Map

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(8 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(35 within a 30 mile radius)

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