Tank Lakes in Winter

Page Type
Trip Report
Washington, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Feb 28, 2010
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
5106 Hits
81.18% Score
Log in
to vote
Page By:
Tank Lakes in Winter
Created On: Mar 1, 2010
Last Edited On: Sep 14, 2013

A spectacular winter sunrise lightshow.

(Aug 2006)
(Oct 2009) (Link to trip report from an autumn overnight at Tank Lakes.)
(Feb 2010) (This trip report.)

The Route

Topo map of approach via Necklace Valley.
(Click on images to enlarge)

The Lakes:
Tank Lakes are located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. These lakes rest on a rocky alpine flat with perennial snowfields and scattered evergreens, with stunning views of Summit Chief, Chimney Rock, and Overcoat Peak across the valley.

Route options:
There is no maintained trail to Tank Lakes, but the lakes can be reached via easy cross-country from a few different directions. This area is often passed by parties doing variations of the (1) Alpine Lakes High Route, in which case the approach typically starts on the Lake Dorothy Trail off the Miller River Road off HWY 2 and comes up to Tank Lakes after Chetwood Lake and Iron Cap Pass. Two popular one-day approaches are (2) via Necklace Valley on the East Fork Foss River Trail off the Foss River Road from HWY 2 and (3) via the Dutch Miller Trail off the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road from I-90.

Necklace Valley Approach:
I have always approached Tank Lakes via Necklace Valley, as we did in this particular trip. The trailhead (1660 ft) is easily accessed from HWY 2 near Skykomish at about 4.5 miles up Foss River Road. The East Fork Foss River Trail takes you 8.3 miles and 3100 ft to the head of Necklace Valley. From there, Tank Lakes can be accessed via about 1 mile and 1000 ft of cross-country hiking.

Okay, now for some photos from a wintertime snowshoe/overnight at the beautiful Tank Lakes!


(Click on images to enlarge)

Usually, the 10 mile approach to Tank Lakes would not be feasible as a one-night trip in the winter, unless you like slogging miles of snow-obscured trail. However, with the unusually low amount of snow accumulation in 2010, the approach was quite doable, but a good workout nonetheless.

We hit snow on the trail around 3200 ft, unusually high for Feb.

The last water we encountered was at Jade Lake at the toe of Necklace Valley. Guess we didn't each need to be hauling 4L (we both drink a lot) over the previous 7 miles...

The old shelter in Necklace Valley at 7.4 miles. You could stay here, but the views aren't great.

To get to Tank Lakes, we snowshoed up a ridgeline heading southwest out of the head of Necklace Valley. Necklace Valley is below.

Almost there. And note the cairn still uncovered (in Feb!?).

A big slab avalanche occurred at the head of Necklace Valley on the day we hiked in. The approach to Tank Lakes avoids avalanche-prone slopes if you stay high on the ridge the whole time.

It snowed a little.

Our camp above Tank Lakes. We had to wait until the next morning for views, but it was worth it (scroll below for the photos)!


(Click on images to enlarge)

I've never seen such spectacular morning colors. Within a couple of hours, the lighting had changed dramatically about every 25 minutes. A sequence of shots from dawn to early morning is given below.

5:56am (dawn)

6:12am (dawn)

6:49am (just at sunrise)

6:56am (just after sunrise)


Another North "Cascad-agonia" range. (The 7:07am shot.)




Labeled Panorama of the Alpine Wilderness view from Tank Lakes.


(Click on images to enlarge)

Before heading out, we enjoyed wandering around the Tank Lakes plateau for awhile. It is snowshoer's paradise in the winter, at least for the few who ever get here in the winter.

A beautiful place to snowshoe (or ski). Classic altostratus clouds. See my cloud page for more photos of clouds.

Either a really big glove or a really small tree.

A view across one of the snowy Tank Lakes.

Cool cirrostratus and cirrocumulus clouds. See my cloud page for more photos of clouds.

Edge of a well around a boulder.

Rime on tree.


(Click on images to enlarge)

A few more photos from the hike out.

Watch out for the "streambed crevasses"!

Shadows of the trees on the clouds. See my cloud page for more photos of clouds.

A cool radial pattern on a log cross-section on the trail.

How to snowshoe in the Winter of 2010.

More on my website

This trip report is copied from my website, which has several other climbing trip reports and photographs from the North Cascades and elsewhere: http://www.stephabegg.com.


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-7 of 7

Redwic - Mar 1, 2010 2:23 pm - Voted 10/10


I bow down to the awesomeness of your TR, photos, and your persevereness.


EricChu - Mar 1, 2010 3:00 pm - Voted 10/10

This is absolutely great!!

What a show! Congratulations, StephAbegg!


lcarreau - Mar 1, 2010 11:12 pm - Voted 10/10

You're definitely a person

who is gifted. I hope you know this means we'll be expecting some
wonderful things from you down the line.

Tread lightly around those avalanche tracks, however !!!


StephAbegg - Mar 2, 2010 8:58 am - Hasn't voted

Re: You're definitely a person

Thanks for the encouragement. Someday I hope to figure out a way to incorporate this love of adventure, photography, and documentation more into what I do (instead of it always being on the side, where eventually I won't have time for it), and keep sharing the fruits with others. So thanks for enjoying and continuing to complement and encourage, it inspires me to keep looking for ways to figure out how...


gimpilator - Mar 2, 2010 9:54 am - Voted 10/10


I don't know if I've said it before, but you are an asset to this site. You take mountaineering to another level and we are lucky to witness your photographs and reports.


StephAbegg - Mar 2, 2010 10:19 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Fantastic

Thanks! It's encouragement like this that keeps my dream to figure out a career that encorporates the stuff I love to do! Being a grad student only lasts so long....

Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Mar 2, 2010 10:53 am - Voted 10/10

great report...

and wonderful photography...

Viewing: 1-7 of 7