Skyline Lake

North Cascades, Washington

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Skyline Lake


  • Winter cabin at the trailhead.- Skyline Lake
  • Skier cabin on the way to Skyline Lake.- Skyline Lake
  • Building snow shelters in the day use area.- Skyline Lake
  • Begining of the steep grade.- Skyline Lake
  • Starting the climb to Skyline Lake.- Skyline Lake
  • View to the southwest.- Skyline Lake
  • First full view of the Stevens Pass Resort.- Skyline Lake
  • A view of Stevens Pass on the way to Skyline Lake.- Skyline Lake
  • Continuing up to the north.- Skyline Lake
  • Views from the approach to Skyline Lake.- Skyline Lake
  • Views from the approach to Skyline Lake.- Skyline Lake
  • - Skyline Lake
  • Winding trail to Skyline Lake.- Skyline Lake
  • Radio tower just before Skyline Lake.- Skyline Lake
  • Leaving the main track and heading northwest to the lake.- Skyline Lake
  • Skyline Lake.- Skyline Lake
  • North shore of Skyline Lake.- Skyline Lake
  • Looking east from the north shore.- Skyline Lake
  • Some backcountry skiers finishing their run.- Skyline Lake
  • Avalanche saftey groups.- Skyline Lake
  • - Skyline Lake
Overview + Weather
High alpine lakes. Great views.
Large crowds during ski season. Close to a ski resort
North Cascades, WA
Pets allowed: 
Groomed trail: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,000.00 ft (304.80 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Total Distance: 
3.00 mi (4.83 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,068.00 ft (1,239.93 m)
Typically multi-day: 
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description


Skyline Lake is a short winter outing with a tremendous reward. It is essentially a 1,000-foot climb that leaves straight out of the north parking lot at Stevens Pass and ends at a cozy little lake basin. On a clear day, the expansive views of the entire Alpine Lakes Wilderness to the south seem an almost unfair prize for the brief, 1.5-mile journey to the lake. A plethora of outdoor recreation activities take place at this popular winter hang-out, so don't expect too much solitude during the ski season.

Start out by finding the trailhead near some A-frame cabins and other winter utility buildings. Follow the groomed snowcat track as it winds north away from the parking area. You'll shortly pass under power lines and arrive at a day use area that's popular with families for sledding and building igloos. Continue another quarter of a mile for some fine first views of the Stevens Pass Resort spread out over the hills to the south across the snaking highway. Keep pushing as the trail curves past an army green radio tower, which can serve as a proper resting point.

Beyond the tower the slope becomes more forgiving, and there will be an obvious path leading off into the forest west of the main track. There is often a flagged pole sticking out of the snow here. Take the narrow trail northwest through the fir trees, and on the other side you will be relieved to find yourself inside the frozen Skyline Lake basin. If you have the  time and energy at this point, take the opportunity to skim around to the west side of the lake and climb up to the crest of Skyline Ridge, where your views become nothing less than spectacular!       

Note: Always check backcountry conditions before heading out, and remember to stay alert for backcountry skiers coming down the slopes near the trail.

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.

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Field Guide + Map

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(28 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(98 within a 30 mile radius)

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