Josephine Lake, Stevens Pass Trailhead N-S, Seattle - Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass - Central Cascades, Washington

Josephine Lake - 10.5 miles

Stevens Pass Trailhead N-S

Josephine Lake (4,681') from the PCT

Josephine Lake (4,681') from the PCT

Round-Trip Length: 10.5 miles
Start-End Elevation: 4,061' - 4,681' (5,179' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +620' net elevation gain (+2,662' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Josephine Lake - 10.5 Miles Round-Trip

Josephine Lake (4,681') is located 5.25 miles from Stevens Pass in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It lies in a steep-walled bowl under the PCT - Icicle Creek Trail junction.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The PCT heads south up Stevens Pass Ski Area to a crest, then drops down the backside to Lake Susan Jane within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It rises back to a ridge over Josephine, where the Icicle Creek Trail splits down to the lake.

The ICT continues approximately 7 miles to Icicle Creek Road (#7600) outside Leavenworth with access to White Pine Creek and the Chain Lakes. 

Visitors will enjoy moderate grades, high open travel across the ski area and good fishing at Josephine, which is stocked with Golden Trout. Late summer berry picking and autumn colors are notably good on this trail:

The PCT begins at a fairly anonymous point next to the clocktower at the base of the ski area. It winds across open slopes and thin bands of timber with good views over the ski area and pass (1.0 miles : 4,565'). The trail reaches a crest atop the ski area (1.9 miles : 5,179'), then dives down the Aquarius run on steep, winding switchbacks to a service road (2.92 miles : 4,690').

Cross the service road and pass under the last power lines to a low point in a meadow (3.2 miles : 4,610'). The PCT enters the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (3.38 miles : 4,627') and rises gently across the head of Milk Creek to Lake Susan Jane (4.0 miles : 4,595'). LSJ is a small but interesting pond with a few campsites.

The PCT arcs steeply above LSJ to the PCT - Icicle Creek Trail junction on a ridge directly over Josephine (4.6 miles : 4,922'). The PCT veers right and stays high with great aerial views of the basin.

The Icicle Creek Trail splits left and undulates past several heather-ringed ponds before dropping ruggedly to the outlet of Josephine Lake (5.25 miles : 4,681'), which forms Icicle Creek. Steep walls frame much of the lake, but there's enough room to explore, fish and find privacy. Remain on existing paths and respect marked restoration areas.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N47 44.667 W121 05.363 — 0.0 miles : Steven Pass - PCT Trailhead (S)
  • N47 44.389 W121 05.244 — .5 miles : Switchbacks up across ski area
  • N47 43.971 W121 05.438 — 1.0 miles : Winding trail on forest fringe
  • N47 43.877 W121 05.244 — 1.5 miles : Intervals of brush and timber
  • N47 43.946 W121 05.066 — 1.85 miles : Crest atop ski area and drop
  • N47 44.015 W121 04.700 — 2.4 miles : Steep, winding descent
  • N47 43.719 W121 04.829 — 2.92 miles : Cross service road
  • N47 43.456 W121 04.665 — 3.38 miles : Alpine Lakes Wilderness Boundary
  • N47 43.319 W121 04.019 — 4.0 miles : Lake Susan Jane (4,595')
  • N47 43.226 W121 03.837 — 4.4 miles : Steep climb over lake
  • N47 43.149 W121 03.650 — 4.6 miles : PCT - Icicle Creek Trail split
  • N47 43.100 W121 03.259 — 5.25 miles : Lake Josephine (4,681')

Worth Noting

  • Late summer berries are notably abundant on this trail. Fall colors are exceptional, and you'll have some particularly good views from open runs in the ski area.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Camping Rules and Regulations

  • Group size is limited to 12 individuals (camping with stock is not permitted at Lake Josephine).
  • Camp only in established sites. Some may be closed for restoration
  • Sites are first come, first served.
  • Campfires are prohibited at Josephine Lake.
  • Bathe and wash dishes at least 150-200' from lakes and streams.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted in Josephine Lake with a valid WA state fishing license.
  • Contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for specific guidelines.

Sport | Commercial Licenses: 360.902.2434
Disability Licenses: 360.902.2460

Rules and Regulations

  • A Recreation Pass is not required to access the Stevens Pass Trailhead (north or south).
  • Free, self-registration is required at the North Trailhead. Sign in as directed at the trailhead board.
  • Dogs are permitted on the PCT from Stevens Pass to Josephine Lake.
  • Camping with stock is not permitted at Josephine Lake.

Directions to Trailhead

The Stevens Pass - Pacific Crest Trailhead (S) is located on the south side of Highway 2 within the Stevens Pass Ski Area. The trail begins at the clock tower, just up the steps from the main parking area. Access Josephine Lake and the Chain Lakes.

The Stevens Pass - Pacific Crest Trailhead (N) is located on the north side of Highway 2 on Stevens Pass, oppostite the Stevens Pass Ski Area. The trail begins on the left side of the green-roof building, between it and the fenced-off power station). Access Lake Valhalla. 

A pedestrian bridge leads over the highway and connects the two parking areas.

Stevens Pass is approximately 65 miles east of Everett, and 35.1 miles west of Leavenworth.

Contact Information

Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest | Wenatchee River Ranger District
600 Sherbourne St.
Leavenworth, WA 98826

Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest | Headquarters
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, WA 98801

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"This is a great website with very accurate information on this hike and lake. One thing to note though... you can cut 2.92 miles each way off the trip, by taking FS Road #6960 in the back side of the ski area. Take it to its end up below the power lines. The Crest trail is right there, and you cut off the switchbacks over the ski hill. On my Aug 11, ‘18 trip we found perfect trail conditions, with no mud or slick spots. There were abundant blueberries just beyond the power lines. Lake Josephine provided me with my sought out Golden trout. I bushwhacked down below the LARGE rootball (tree) as you descend towards the lake. There is a rockslide in that area. I fish at the bottom of it. The main area of camp spots at the lake is a little shallow. I am returning in a few days with a float tube and will cover the entire lake. Most of it is pretty unreachable with high sides and no true trail. If you are into Geocaching, there is one located near the bluff over Josephine. Check it out. "
Chris Andersen  -  Seattle  -  Date Posted: August 18, 2018


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