Alta Mountain via Rachel Lake Fall Hike
DATE HIKED: 9/29/18
TOTAL DISTANCE/ASCENT: 11.3 MILES AND 3,659 FT
REQUIRED PERMIT: ATTAINED AT TRAILHEAD
DOG FRIENDLY: DOGS FRIENDLY BELOW ALTA MOUNTAIN
LOCATION: ALPINE LAKES WILDERNESS
RECREATION PASS: NORTHWEST FOREST PASS
Plans to scramble up Black Peak didn’t work out this particular weekend due to not ideal weather in the North Cascades. I searched for a back up option with good weather and fall colors. I came across recent trip reports of Alta Mountain and the colors were looking good. I had backpacked to Rachel Lake before and explored the Rampart Lakes area, but had not been to the Lila Lakes and Alta Mountain area.
We left Seattle at around 7:00 and arrived to a nearly full trailhead before 9:00. I forget that doing hikes so close to Seattle on a nice Saturday will result in very busy trails. The hike up to Rachel Lake was rather quick and easy going through the trails. I so appreciated only wearing a day pack vs a big backpacking pack up this. We took a short break at Rachel Lake and snacked before make the climb up to Alta Mountain. Most people stopped here as well. After Rachel Lake, there is a boot path that goes up to the fork to Rampart Lakes (left) and Lila Lakes/ Alta Mountain (right).
Apparently a little after this we missed the turn off to Alta Mountain and headed towards Lila Lakes instead. This was actually nice to do this as loop and see that area as well. The fall colors lit up the hillsides.
After getting back on trail to Alta Mountain, we hiked up the last ridge line to the top. There is a false summit to reach before the actual summit. This part is not exactly dog or kid friendly with steep, rocky cliffs. It is a relatively easy/ moderate hike for some amazing views of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. So surprising to get these kind of views so close to Seattle and not a very far hike. Views of Mt. Stuart, Rainier, Mt. Adams and more were all visible from the top. We stayed up there for awhile soaking in the view of all the peaks before heading back down.
On the way back down we couldn’t stop taking photos of all the fall colors and how good it looked!
If you’re looking for good fall colors I recommend adding this to your list of fall hikes to see! This day was a reminder that you don’t have to go very far to find beauty in the Washington backcountry.