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The view across the Oval Lakes from the summit of Courtney Peak

Explore The Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness' Oval Lakes

A 3 day lake swimming and peak bagging adventure in one of Washington's most remote corners!

Hiking Difficult, Severe

The view across the Oval Lakes from the summit of Courtney Peak
The view across the Oval Lakes from the summit of Courtney Peak Photo: Charlie Boscoe


The 153,057-acre Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness in the North Cascades is home to 63 lakes and almost 200 miles of trails. By doing the trip described here you'll cover about 15% of the trails and almost 10% of the lakes! The trip can be extended easily enough by spending a night at Star Lake and climbing its eponymous peak, but doing it as described here makes for a fabulous long weekend.

This particular journey begins close to Twisp on Highway 20, and it's a nice little town where you'll be able to grab last minute supplies and a good breakfast before setting out. The trailhead can be accessed in a standard vehicle, but an SUV will make it feel slightly less bumpy!

Once underway on the hike you are in for a treat - the beautiful forests for which the Cascades are known provide a great start and then they thin out as you climb up to the Oval Lakes, some of the most beautiful little mountain lakes you'll find anywhere. There are ample spots around the lakes at which to set up camp, and from that camp you can then climb Gray and Courtney Peaks, 2 wonderful summits which provide some easy scrambling and terrific vistas all the way to Glacier Peak.

The final day of this hike is also wonderful, and not the slog out that many trip-ending days are. You'll experience the rarely-visited Tuckaway Lake, see a whole new set of vistas and then spend a couple of hours gradually reentering the real world by hiking through yet more lovely forests.

If you want to check out the Cascades on good trails, with no bushwhacking, and visit some wild, beautiful spots en route - this is your hike!

Routes included

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