Situated on the eastern edge of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Lake Ingalls has become one of the most popular destinations with its clear blue lake, and stunning backdrop of Mount Stuart.
Lake Ingalls is in Washington State and sits at an elevation of 6,466 ft. Its primary sources of outflow are the Esmeralda Basin and Ingalls Creek.
Access to the lake comes via the Ingalls Way Trail. The hike travels through the Teanaway Valley and into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. You'll even glimpse the hills around Navaho Peak to the east. It offers up forests filled with wildflowers to rocky meadows, and waterfalls.
The best time to visit Lake Ingalls is July through October, when the passes have minimal or no snow.
Lake Ingalls Facts
Some key facts to keep in mind when you visit:
Camping is not allowed at Lake Ingalls.
Dogs are not allowed at Lake Ingalls.
A Northwest Forest Pass is required at Lake Ingalls.
Lake Ingalls Map
Use the map below to navigate to Lake Ingalls:
Lake Ingalls Trail - Ingalls Way Trail
The Lake Ingalls trail is an 8.4-mile-out-and-back trail with an elevation gain of 2,900 ft. There is a small parking lot located at the trailhead that can fill up quickly during the busy season, so make sure you get there early!
Trailhead Coordinates: 47.43724360860129, -120.9369458431053
The trailhead is located off exit 85 on I-90. Follow the signs WA-10/WA-9710 north towards Wenatchee, then make a left onto Teanaway Road. You’ll be on this road for 13.1 miles; follow the signs for NF-9737 till you arrive at the parking lot and trailhead. The beginning of the hike is pretty easy, with gradual elevation gain.
The trailhead, parking lot below Esmerelda Peaks, and the beginning of the trail to Lake Ingalls
The trail is well-maintained and in good condition. 0.4 miles into the trail, you’ll come across a junction marked Ingalls Way. Turn right here; traveling straight ahead will take you into Esmeralda Basin.
After you turn right, the trail begins to make its way up the hillside, exiting out of the forest into open country. Continue straight on this trail as you go up to Ingalls Pass. At 1.4 miles, you’ll see another trail junction, keep straight on the path towards Ingalls Pass, venturing right will take you up to Longs Pass, adding another 1.4 miles to your round-trip.
As you climb up to Ingalls Pass, you’ll have constant views of the Esmeralda Peaks and Fortune Pass. As the trail gets closer to the pass, there will be long switchbacks overlooking meadows and continuously better views as you make your way into the alpine. Around the 3-mile mark, you’ll reach Ingalls Pass.
The views of Mt. Stuart and the Ingalls Peaks will take your breath away. The Pass will also delight you with abundant flowers, mountain goats, and other wildlife.
On the pass, the trail forks. The left path is the more maintained trail, providing an easier navigation route. The right path offers a more direct but difficult journey to the lake, requiring you to hike across Headlight Creek. Use the cairns for the best route as the trail bends and heads up into a lake basin.
Route finding can be difficult during the hike, so it is best advised to download a map before.
The lake is a clear sky-blue, surrounded by giant slabs of rock. On the south side of the lake, Ingalls Peaks tower above, while to the northeast stands the impervious Mount Stuart. Follow a 1.5-mile path around the lake to get different views and perspectives of the landscape.
Lake Ingalls Camping
Camping is not allowed at Ingalls Lake.
If you plan to camp back on Ingalls Pass, the right path across Headlight Creek will drop you into Headlight Basin, which has numerous camps with amazing views across Ingalls Creek valley to Mount Stuart. This lower path continues across Headlight Creek, then climbs to meet the maintained trail at a signed junction, less than a quarter-mile from the lake.
Check out our complete guide to Headlight Basin camping!
Lake Ingalls Weather
Lake Ingalls during July and August can see highs of 80 to 90 degrees, with an average temperature of 65 to 75 degrees. The low during the summer months varies around 50 degrees.
In the wintertime, average temperatures sit around 30 degrees, with potential highs of the upper 30s. The average low for winters is 20 degrees.
When it comes to forecasting for snow, the trail, on average, will lose most of its snow by June or sometimes mid-July.
The driest period for Ingalls Pass will be late August and early September.
Lake Ingalls Mountain Goats
Lake Ingalls is famous for its local mountain goats. By the time you get to Ingalls Pass, you'll likely see at least a few of these native residents. They're not aggressive or dangerous as long as you don't get too close and let them pass along the trail in front of you.
Lake Ingalls Activities
Lake Ingalls is famed for its blue waters and incredible views. But other things to do at Lake Ingalls include:
● Camping (Headlight Creek)
● There is swimming during the summer months, but the water will feel ice cold
● Fishing; species that inhabit the lake are Cutthroat trout, Golden trout, and Rainbow trout
● Wildflower picking
Dogs are not allowed at Lake Ingalls. No, dogs are not allowed at Lake Ingalls. Dogs are allowed on the first 0.4 miles of the trail to the junction of Esmeralda Basin. But, from the junction on, dogs are not allowed on Ingalls Pass and Longs Pass.
Do I need a permit for Lake Ingalls?
The NW Wilderness pass is required to park at the trailhead. The pass is available for day use at the trailhead and also available online for yearly passes. There may be closures for the road to the trail during the wintertime.
Who was Lake Ingalls named after?
Lake Ingalls is named after Captain Benjamin Ingalls of the United States Cavalry. He led an 1855 survey of the area and is credited with discovering gold in the region. His name was also given to a creek and mountain nearby.