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Headlight Basin Camping | Lake Ingalls Campground

Headlight Basin is located just over Ingalls Pass, with incredible views of Ingalls Peak and Mount Stuart. If you're hiking to Lake Ingalls, Headlight Basin is your best option for camping.


Although not on the banks of Lake Ingalls, Headlight Basin is a far roomier and just as beautiful location, only a 5-10 minute walk from the lake itself. It won't disappoint!


Make sure to check out our complete guide to hiking Lake Ingalls!

If you're planning an overnight trip to Lake Ingalls, Headlight Basin is an incredibly scenic nearby camping area. It has no amenities besides a wilderness toilet but does boast unbeatable views of Mount Stuart, Ingalls Creek, Ingalls Peak, and the other peaks in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area.

Camping in Headlight basin near Ingalls Peak
Camping in Headlight basin near Ingalls Peak


Lake Ingalls Trail to Headlight Basin

The Lake Ingalls trail, also known as the Ingalls Way Trail, is an 8.4-mile-out-and-back trail with an elevation gain of 2,900 ft. There is a small parking lot with space for around 40 cars located at the trailhead that can fill up quickly during the busy season, so make sure you get there early!


View along the Ingalls Way Trail
View along the Ingalls Way Trail

The trail provides hikers with fantastic views of Esmerelda Basin, Esmerelda Peaks, and the surrounding hills of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. When you get into the Basin, you'll even be able to see as far as Navaho Peak. As the trail climbs, you'll pass over Ingalls Pass, where you're more than likely going to encounter mountain goats.


Trailhead Coordinates: 47.43724360860129, -120.9369458431053



Headlight Basin, WA Coordinates

The general coordinates of Headlight Basin are: 47.46277568517342, -120.9429835042619


After passing over Ingalls Pass, you'll descend immediately into the basin. A few minutes of walking along the winding paths will reveal a few incredible campsites. There are a few signs to help you navigate the basin.


After setting up camp, keep walking along any trail of your choice (this is made more difficult if there is snow on the ground) towards Ingalls Peak. The lake will come into view after scrambling around a cairn-marked rock section. The lake is small, but there is a lightly-marked trail that goes around it.


Camping sign in Headlight Basin
Camping sign in Headlight Basin

Make sure you keep an eye out for "Closed for Restoration" signs that mark areas that are not open for camping.





Headlight Basin Amenities

  • Wilderness pit toilet

  • No tables or structures

  • Running water from the nearby Ingalls Creek


Facts about Headlight Basin

  • Dogs are not allowed

  • Bikes are not allowed

  • Parking at the Esmerelda Basin trailhead requires a Northwest Forest Pass.

  • You need a self-issued Alpine Lakes Wildnerness overnight permit to camp at Lake Ingalls.


FAQs

Can you camp at Lake Ingalls?

No, you can't camp right next to Lake Ingalls. But, you can camp at Headlight Basin, only a few short minutes away. It's a far better spot to camp and boasts several spectacular sites.


Are dogs allowed on the Lake Ingalls trail?

No, dogs are not allowed on the Lake Ingalls trail or in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness areas in general.


Do you need a permit to camp at Lake Ingalls?

You need a self-issued Alpine Lakes Wilderness permit that you can fill out at the trailhead. They're free but required for anyone in the area, especially if you're staying overnight.


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