Pets allowed
Allowed
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
2.20 mi (3.54 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The southern portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest may not get the same recognition as other areas, but Soda Peaks Lake is a trip worth exploring. Nestled in a natural bowl above Trapper Creek, the lake offers great solitude and tranquility among old-growth forest. Access from Soda Peaks Trailhead to the west provides a steep but short approach.

The lake has five established backcountry campsites that are accessed on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to the limited number of sites, it is recommended that overnight campers arrive early or on less crowded dates. The backcountry sites area all situated along edge of the lake, and they can be accessed by the unmaintained trail that circumnavigates the water's edge.  

Starting from the trailhead, a brief flat walk through high grasses gives way to steeper trail. The trail can be very wet and muddy during rainy months, and the occasional root or tree limb is helpful to maintain balance. The trail continues unrelentingly for a mile over the western ridge above the lake. You'll get fleeting glances at Mount Adams and Goat Rocks to the east before you descend to the lake below.  

The lake is very tranquil and reflective because it's well protected from winds by the surrounding ridges on three sides. The lake dribbles down a small creek to the northeast, but there are too many trees to see views of the valley beyond. There are some opportunities to scramble up adjacent talus fields, but the views are still limited. 

The key to a trip to Soda Peaks Lake is to enjoy the still waters and peace and quiet. Visitors might swim in the warm shallow water during summer months. Please be mindful of your camp volume in this area, as sound reverberates across the water and between the ridges.  

Note: A second approach from Trapper Creek Trailhead (to the east of the lake) is also accessible for more adventurous hikers. The trail from Trapper Creek is approximately 7 miles of substantial gain (approximately 2,500 feet).

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Pros

Short hike. Beautiful water.

Cons

Limited campsites.

Trailhead Elevation

2,425.00 ft (739.14 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,276.00 ft (388.92 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Old-growth forest
Fishing

Location

Nearby Adventures

Washington, Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens
Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington
Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington
Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington

Comments

08/03/2018
Had a great hike here a couple weeks ago w/ my oldest son. We arrived at the TH shortly after 4pm on Friday and at the lake around 6pm. When we got there, we found that there was only one of the five camp sites still available. Unfortunately for us, the one remaining site wasn't well suited to hammocks so we had to find a spot just off the trail to set up camp.

Later that night, one more group arrived and occupied the site that we passed on.

The next day (Saturday), while on our way out, we encountered close to a dozen more people on their way in. I'm sure that the sites were all filled up. Some were day hikers, but most looked like they were hoping to stay at the lake.
09/23/2017
This is a great hike and beautiful camp site. The trail is steep both directions so be warned.

The trailhead is a bit unclear. Immediately when 54 ends at the four way junction, it's off to the left with no signage. 20 or so feet around a corner is the sign. Don't go down the road down the way to the right, like Google told me to do.
07/02/2017
nice. pretty clean. a bit buggy.

not a lot of camp sites, which is both a pro and con.

know that there is no trailhead sign to be seen from the road.
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