Lake Ingalls is one of the most popular trails in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, eastern Washington. If you’d want to participate in the Larch Madness march, this is the one!
From Seattle, it takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to the Lake Ingalls trailhead. You’d have to drive on a bumpy dirt road for about half of an hour. It’s a popular trail, so you will most likely have to park along the road and hike to the trailhead, especially on a nice sunny day and on the weekends.
Length: 9.0 mi. (This hike is rated as hard and strenuous.)
Elevation Gain: 2,600 ft. High Point: 6,500 ft
Parking Permit Required: Northwest Forest Pass
I did this hike on Saturday, October 3, 2020, with some of my friends who were in town for the weekend. It was definitely a little bit early for the larches to be at their peaks. There was a ridiculous amount of people on the trail, and it felt extra long because we had to wait and yield for others so many times. My friends got separated from us and almost got lost, so make sure to stay on the trail and ask people for help if you ever get lost.
It was the second most difficult hike I did in 2020 (just after Blanca Lake). Hence, I do not recommend this hike to beginners or those who are afraid of height or don’t have hiking boots and poles. It took us about 3 hours to get to the lake and 2.5 hours to get down.
- Make sure you bring at least 3 bottles of water per person and plenty of food. We did two per person and almost ran out by the time we got to the lake. We ended up asking for some water from a couple who were filtering water up at the lake, and they were super nice and offered us to drink up and refill another time.
- If you hike this trail in the fall, make sure to bring along a light layer as it gets quite chilly at night.
- My trekking poles and knee brace definitely help my weak legs as well!
- There were lots of people setting up tents at the basin where most of the larches were, and it looked like the dream.
Another excellent fall hike for larches that I highly recommend is Maple Pass- Heather Loop Trail. It’s not as long and strenuous as Ingalls and you’d get to hike around Lake Ann and get a glimpse at the incredibly blue Rainy Lake. I did this hike in the fall of 2019 and a couple of days after I hiked Ingalls in 2020.
Again, if you’re still hesitating to do any of these hikes, feel free to reach out to me. My favorite of it all that makes all of this effort worthwhile is the views of the golden electric yellow and orange larches. I’m currently doing lots of research and slowly adding things to my Camping Kit, so hopefully, I’ll get check this off my bucket list soon.