Backpacking to Eightmile Lake
8.4 miles round trip, 1300′ elevation gain
May 16-17, 2015
Leavenworth/Icicle Creek/Enchantments Area
We left Seattle early Saturday morning, seeking some sunnier weather and a short trip to get ourselves ready for a summer of backpacking. The Icicle Creek area offers tons of activities, and on this beautiful Saturday where permits are not required until June 15th, many were out adventuring by hiking, climbing, bouldering, and backpacking.
We headed up to the Eightmile Lake trailhead off of Icicle Creek Road. The road was bumpy, but passable for any vehicle. The parking lot had ample parking but I’m sure it filled up by mid-day! We arrived about 9:45am and hit the trail along with a few day hikers and fellow backpackers at 10am.
The trail climbs early on with views of the nearby unnamed mountains and Eightmile Creek. The sound of rushing water accompanies you on most of the hike and provides a much needed breeze in the mostly exposed trail. Much of the trail was burned in the 2012 Wenatchee Complex Fire and the remnants remain. Many black trees still stand while some brush has begun to grow back, leaving most of the hike exposed to the sun. As you meander over small hills, shade was found as the sun snuck behind nearby hills.
We arrived at Little Eightmile Lake and said hello to a few people there and enjoyed a short photo opportunity at the small lake. This is also the junction for the trail toward Lake Caroline. We continued the next half-mile, climbing and winding a bit up to Eightmile Lake. It is beautiful and longer than we expected. We arrived about 11:30am.
We first sought to find a good spot for the night since we had seen many other backpackers on the way up. There are many tent spots for large groups and great options all the way down the lake. There are 2 toilets and we found our home for the night near the 2nd toilet sign. We wandered toward the mouth of the lake and found a great single tent spot for a bit more privacy if you wanted and it wasn’t taken since it is a bit more of a hike.
We ate our lunch and setup camp. Other overnighters arrived and we shared our spot with a group of boy scouts and their leaders. They were great company and very generous to welcome the two of us. I’d estimate about 30-35 people stayed overnight in all the camp spots.
We saw a few ticks on the warm rocks near the lake but didn’t see any on us (to Maggie’s great fear!) or elsewhere on the trail. We ate our favorite backpacking meal — stuffing with chicken & craisins for dinner and relaxed thru the evening. We woke up with the dawn about 6am and ate breakfast and broke camp before leaving at 8am. We were seemingly the first to pack up and hike out. We stopped for a few very needed bathroom breaks along the way and made it back to the trailhead around 9:30am. The day hikers were beginning to head out — a few families and people out for a mostly cloudy day hike.
It was a great short kick-off to our backpacking summer, a good test of packing light and fun to get out of the city and sleep in our tent. I love sleeping in the tent and hiking with the reward of resting all evening and night.
Beware: With zero snow here and many other areas, the Enchantments are going to be BUSY from now until permit season starts on June 15th. I recommend leaving early to secure a campsite and please remember to follow the rules. We all want to enjoy the backcountry for decades to come and enjoy the permit-free season. We saw a few campfires (not allowed), dogs (prohibited), and people camping in “day use only” areas. Leave no trace and be a good steward of this beautiful place. 🙂