Forum Index > Trail Talk > Planning an overnight through Spectacle Lake. Some questions.
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OracleWalker
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PostWed Jul 31, 2019 10:47 am 
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Hi all! I'm planning a first time trip to Spectacle Lake. I'm usually around Mt. Baker, but planning a trip since friends that are coming into Seattle.

I was wondering if the path from PCT Trail Head to Spectacle Lake is better than the path from Pete Lake Trail Head to Spectacle Lake? It seems to take quite a bit longer to drive to the Pete Lake Trail Head.

I was originally thinking PCT Trail Head looks nice, but unsure if we can get to Spectacle in one day. Planning to arrive at the trail head by 10am.

How are the bugs (mosquitoes, flies and ticks) usually in late August?

How reliable is GPS service there using something like a garmin gps device, or is an iPhone much better (iPhone X)?

If we are slow which lake is best to stop by on the way to setup camp before turning around? I was thinking if we're slow we might make it to Edds or Joes lake, but unsure which one is better to stay at.
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Brian Curtis
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PostWed Jul 31, 2019 12:15 pm 
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The extra drive time to the Pete Lake trailhead is less than the extra walking time on the PCT.

Bugs are normally fine in late August, but that varies by year. I think they are fine right now.

GPS service is good pretty much anywhere in the world as long as you can see the sky. If you are asking about using an iPhone for maps, well, iPhones are also GPS receivers and they use the exact same GPS satellites as a dedicated GPSr. There will be no cell service.

Edds or Joe would both be fine for camping. Access to Joe is easier but both involve cross country travel.

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Navy salad
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PostWed Jul 31, 2019 1:18 pm 
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I agree that the extra driving time to the Pete Lake trailhead is still a LOT shorter than starting at Stevens pass, where I assume you would be coming from if you live near Mt Baker. (From the Stevens Pass PCT trailhead to Spectacle is about 40 miles. Starting from Snoqualmie would be around 21 miles.) Plus, leaving from the Pete lake trailhead, you can make your first day an easy day and just camp at Pete Lake, then hoof it to Spectacle the next day.

When I went in mid-August a year ago, there were relatively few mosquitoes. But then it was a little breezy, which usually keeps them away pretty well.

I could get a GPS signal fine at Spectacle lake, although it is set in a valley where the walls of the surrounding mountains can interfere with the quality of the signal, depending on satellite placement.
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RandyHiker
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PostWed Jul 31, 2019 2:13 pm 
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FWIW: There are some ponds and flat ground close to the side of the PCT between Huckleberry Mtn and Chikamin -- It another option for a camp between Spectacle Lake and Snoqualmie Pass.  It's farther along the trail, but the other options you list are far off the PCT.

I hiked Stevens -> Snoqualmie in September 2001 and my last night on the trail was at Spectacle -- I covered the 19 miles starting at 8:30AM and finishing around sunset.    Going the other way would involve a lot more climbing.

The hike to Spectacle from the Pete lake trail head is much shorter -- maybe 9 miles and not too much elevation gain -- most of the elevation gain is in the last couple miles.

It's a beautiful area.
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Jeff
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PostWed Jul 31, 2019 2:16 pm 
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I prefer the hike in from Snoqualmie along the PCT, but I like hiking. Easily doable in a day, but I would recommend an earlier start. Otherwise I would drive to the Pete Lake approach. You're on trail the entire time and it well marked so a GPS isn't necessary. Map and compass are more than adequate.
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Backpacker Joe
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PostWed Jul 31, 2019 2:18 pm 
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Ive been in every way.  What "I" would do (depending on how comfortable you are kind of off trail) Id head in Mineral creek to upper park lake.  From there hit the crest for a bit and jump off the trail and drop into Glacier lake.  From there pick up the climbers route (just a trail thru the rocks) up to Chickamin lake.  From Chickamin do a little scramble and check out some really nice tarns on the way up Chickamin peak.  Just a thought.

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Atomc
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PostWed Jul 31, 2019 2:57 pm 
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Come in from Pete lake for sure. Its around 9 or 10 miles total and only like 2000 ft elevation gain. Basically flat until mile 7 or so. Bugs shouldn't be an issue late August usually, but you never know.
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jeannette
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PostWed Jul 31, 2019 3:16 pm 
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I just recently did the hike from Snoqualmie Pass and started there at 8:00 AM . I arrived at Spectacle Lake around 6:30 PM. A very beautiful way to go but very rocky and rough sections. I went on from Spectacle Lake to Waptus River Camp on the PCT and camped there. Quite the climb up Escondido Ridge however very beautiful. I then turned around and headed back to Spectacle Lake for the third night. I found it a little tricky to get to the campsites on the Isthmus at Spectacle Lake  as there are a number of sketchy side trails, just an FYI. By the time I got back to my car since I had to go over all those rocks again, my feet were pretty beat up even though I have Altra Timps which have a lot of cushioning. So maybe the advice on doing the Pete Lake Trail is the way to go so you can avoid a lot of rocks! BTW there are mosquitoes at the lake, not as bad as some places I have been though!
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fourteen410
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PostWed Jul 31, 2019 4:18 pm 
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Backpacker Joe wrote:
Id head in Mineral creek to upper park lake

BPJ are you a sadist?  tongue.gif

Mineral Creek is a cruel, cruel trail when it hasn't been brushed out. But Park Lake and Glacier sure are beautiful...
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contour5
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PostWed Jul 31, 2019 5:39 pm 
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My favorite thing about Spectacle lake is the view of spectacle Lake from park glacier Saddle.  Best approach is via Lillian Lake and East Alta.
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OracleWalker
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PostThu Aug 01, 2019 2:37 am 
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How are the water sources on the hike from Snoqualmie side? I see Ridge Lake and that’s about it until you get to Spectacle Lake.

Are there waterfalls or streams?
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jeannette
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PostThu Aug 01, 2019 6:42 am 
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There was a stream/trickle coming down from all the rocks heading towards Park Lake. I would fill up there as beyond there, unless you drop down to Park Lake, the sources are stagnant tarns.
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HermitThrush
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PostThu Aug 08, 2019 10:10 am 
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Coming from Pete, the PCT from the creek crossing to the lake goes through a burn area and in the hot sun is brutal. Definitely get an early start when it is cool. Worth it though.

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John Morrow
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PostThu Aug 08, 2019 12:09 pm 
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contour5 wrote:
Best approach is via Lillian Lake and East Alta.

That's pretty involved.  Folks tend to think Alta Pass makes for a route since it is on the map but end up in questionable terrain.  I know there's treads in various places that expedite a route but w/o good beta it's a crap shoot for someone's first time in the area.  I wouldn't recommend it.

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SwitchbackFisher
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PostThu Aug 08, 2019 10:12 pm 
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John Morrow wrote:
contour5 wrote:
Best approach is via Lillian Lake and East Alta.

That's pretty involved.  Folks tend to think Alta Pass makes for a route since it is on the map but end up in questionable terrain.  I know there's treads in various places that expedite a route but w/o good beta it's a crap shoot for someone's first time in the area.  I wouldn't recommend it.

I was thinking I might be able to make it from the Lila lake area approaching from the high tarns, I'll be going to either Glacier or Chickamin about the same time as the OP, but when. I reached the top of Alta this week and got a look at the terrain I feel it would be just as difficult or more difficult than any other way in. Plus I have a friend who easily panicks and thinks we are lost on any off trail traverse going on this trip.

But my question would be if Mineral creek or Pete lake is quicker and easier. I have read that mineral creek can be a bush wack but how bad is it?

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