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Soda Peaks Lake via Trapper Creek Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Soda Peaks Lake (Dean Myerson)
Footbridge over Trapper Creek (Dean Myerson)
Soda Peaks Lake on a rainy November day (bobcat)
Large Douglas-fir on the Soda Peaks Lake Trail (bobcat)
Route of the hike shown in red (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Trapper Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Soda Peaks Lake
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 10.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3110 feet
  • High Point: 3785 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer and Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

Soda Peaks Lake, formerly known as Lost Lake, is in the southern portion of the Trapper Creek Wilderness in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It is about 15 miles north of the town of Carson. The Soda Peaks Lake Trail (#133) passes by the lake and has trailheads both east and west of the lake; see the hike description for the Soda Peaks Lake West Hike for the shorter option. This approach takes you over the sturdy new footbridge at Trapper Creek for an unrelenting ascent to the destination. There are a number of good campsites at the lake, which lies nestled in a glacial cirque below the summit of an old volcano that erupted about 360,000 years ago.

Note: The trailhead west of Government Mineral Springs (shown in the map below), making for a shorter hike of 7.0 miles round-trip to Soda Peaks Lake, has been decommissioned.

From the trailhead, enter Douglas-fir/hemlock woods with red-cedar, big-leaf maple, vine maple, a couple of western white pines, yew, sword fern, salal, Oregon grape, and red huckleberry. A few yards up is the Trapper Creek-Dry Creek Trail Junction. Continue on the Trapper Creek Trail #192. The tread ascends gradually and then keeps low along the side of Howe Ridge. This is old growth, with a few large hemlocks and Douglas-firs and many snags from an ancient fire. The woods are mossy, and a stunning glabrous green in wet weather. Enter the Trapper Creek Wilderness and then come to the Trapper Creek-Observation Trail Junction. Keep straight on Trail #192 and cross Lush Creek on a footbridge; then head up to traverse along the side of the ridge again. Some bigger Douglas-firs and a few silver firs appear. Cross a footbridge over a rushing creek and come to the Trapper Creek-Soda Peaks Lake Trail Junction.

Go left on this trail and descend below mossy, buttressed cedars, reaching an alder/big-leaf maple flat. A trail leads left to the Government Mineral Springs area and an unofficial trailhead; keep straight here to reach Trapper Creek. A sturdy new footbridge (2013) has been erected here. Pass under alders and then bear left to keep to the main trail. Passing some very large Douglas-firs and western hemlocks, you reach the Soda Peaks Lake-Soda Peaks Tie Trail Junction. The Soda Peaks Tie Trail used to connect to Government Mineral Springs, but it has now been officially abandoned.

Switchback up to the right under Douglas-fir, western hemlock, silver fir and yew. Keep switchbacking through woods of vanilla leaf, vine maple and cascara. There are openings created by blowdown where salal and cascara stand out. Reach the crest of the ridge, drop slightly, and then rise again. The trail skirts a knoll, from which there is a view of Mount Hood, and drops to a saddle, and then rises steeply again. Switchback at the ridge crest in hemlock woods and get views east to Observation Peak. There are some impressive Douglas-firs in this area also. Keep switchbacking up relentlessly. The trail rounds a rocky face, traverses through old growth and then passes across a vine maple/hazel scree slope. Head up again in old growth woods of Douglas-fir, western hemlock and silver fir. The trail levels and then drops, wending among some huge hemlocks. Then begin to traverse up again. On a clear day, you can take in views of Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams along this section. The trail switchbacks and heads steeply up before reaching Soda Peaks Lake. Douglas-fir, western hemlock, Alaska yellow-cedar and silver fir surround the lake, which falls into deep shadow early in the afternoon. There’s a rushing outlet creek and a couple of decent campsites here. There are brook trout in the lake, so bring a rod if you want to fry one up for dinner.

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Lookout Mtn, WA #396 and Wind River, WA #397
  • Trapper Creek Wilderness (USFS)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Wilderness, Indian Heaven Wilderness, Trapper Creek Wilderness
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens - Mt. Adams

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required at trailhead
  • Self-issued Wilderness Permit
  • Somewhat tricky ford of Trapper Creek

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Hiking Washington's Mount Adams Country by Fred Barstad
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • One Night Wilderness: Portland by Douglas Lorain
  • 95 Virtual Hikes of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by Northwest Hiker
  • 33 Hiking Trails: Southern Washington Cascades by Don and Roberta Lowe
  • Exploring Washington's Wild Areas by Marge & Ted Mueller
  • The Columbia Gorge: Short Trips and Trails by Oral Bullard & Don Lowe (called the "Lost Lake Trail")
  • Hiking the Gifford Pinchot Backcountry by the Columbia Group Sierra Club

More Links

Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.