A couple weeks ago my roommate and I decided to go on a last-minute girl’s weekend. Finding the whole getting manicures and going shopping to be a bit overrated, we opted for some hiking instead. Seeking a place that wouldn’t be too out of the way, since we were two girls hiking alone, but still craving some fresh air away from our cramped Seattle apartment, we looked into taking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Chinook Pass to White Pass. It seemed like a good option and never having hiked any of the PCT previously I thought this would be a great time to try it out. I was not disappointed. It was exactly the kind of hike we were looking for.
The first day we hiked into Dewey Lake, only about two and a half miles from the trailhead. We got kind of a late start and decided to take it easy that day. We also opted to do an out-and-back instead of going through to White Pass, hearing that the Chinook Pass end was much more scenic anyway. We had also heard that Dewey Lake is stocked with trout so we thought we’d try to catch our dinner; luckily we didn’t bank on feeding ourselves this way as we did not have much luck. The only thing caught all weekend was a tree branch.
The hike to Dewey Lake was pleasant. It had a small amount of incline at the beginning and then approximately a mile from the lake you descend into the valley where it is located. The trail was well maintained and not too strenuous, which was nice after some of the hikes I did earlier this summer, but still provided incredible views of the surrounding lakes and mountains.
Dewey Lake is a popular camping location and there were many families and other hikers camped out near us. Normally I enjoy feeling like there is nobody around for miles but I also normally hike with more friends. While we weren’t successful in our fishing endeavors, it was still dry enough to light a fairly decent fire, which was nice to have when it started cooling off.
On day two we hiked from Dewey Lake to Anderson Lake where we set up camp and left our gear before hiking on. There was only one camp spot at this location, at least that we found, but it was a nice spot about 100 yards from the lake. Both of our campsites were completely surrounded by blueberries, which were a delicious addition to our morning oatmeal. We thought we might run into some bears with all the berries around but we didn’t see any wildlife. The only animals we encountered were one man’s pack llamas, which I have now added to my to-buy list because who doesn’t want a furry, hiking companion who can carry all your stuff.
After ditching our gear we hiked a few miles further. I would highly recommend this section of the trail as it offers stunning views of Mount Rainier to the right and America Lake to the left. As our feet started to get tired and we started to get hungry for dinner we headed back to our campsite. We also tried fishing here but struck out again. After spending the night here we hiked back, stopping at Dewey Lake to refill our water.
We got lucky with the weather on this trip and had about 70 degrees and sunny for the entirety of the hike. As we were walking into the parking lot to get in our car at the end it started raining. For someone who generally has very bad timing and not-so-good luck it made me very happy that the bad weather waited for the drive home.
I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone looking for a moderate and beautiful trip, whether you make it a day hike and go to Dewey Lake or go further and make it a multi-day trek. Packing some warm clothes is also be highly recommended as autumn is just around the corner and at the highest point of this hike the elevation is about 5,700 feet. The nights did get a little chilly but overall it was a very successful girls weekend.
It always amazes me how much beauty the Pacific Northwest can hold. Just a couple hours outside the bustling city and you can enjoy unrivaled views. Chinook Pass is a great place for families or people looking for a beautiful place to escape without the intensity of extreme elevation gain, difficult navigation or climbing over downed trees and dealing with trail washouts.
To get there from Seattle, take I-5 down to State Route 161 and follow signs to SR 410 (Chinook Pass Highway) via SR 167 and drive east on 410 to Chinook Pass. You can park on the north side of the highway in the Tipsoo Lake parking area. The trailhead is on the south side of the highway.