Trout Lake, Copper Lake, Little Heart Lake and Big Heart Lake via West Fork Foss Lake Trail

MODERATE 30 reviews
#8 of 31 trails in

Trout Lake, Copper Lake, Little Heart Lake and Big Heart Lake via West Fork Foss Lake Trail is a 13.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Skykomish, Washington that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

13.4 miles
4,064 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash





nature trips








wild flowers

If you want to experience some of the ruggedness and wild beauty that exists in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area, this is a great hike that will cover all those bases. Several unspoiled lakes filled with trout, blue waters that are unmatched for sparkling clarity, and surrounded with barren slopes all, with their own character that make each lake unmistakable. From the trailhead, the first part of the trail seems to be walking up an old stream bed, very rocky and loose. After about a 1000ft or so, it becomes more trail like, and then follows the West Fork Foss River for awhile, giving you views of the surrounding sheer rock face that lines the river here. Once you reach the river crossing, you will notice that you have to follow rock cairns, as the river washed out this part of trail. At the point that you need to cross the river, it will be over a log that has a step nailed into it on the opposite side, making it easier to step down, or up. From here, pay close attention, as the continuing trail here is not well marked! The trail begins again about another 50 feet or so, on your right. Back on the trail, it continues on towards Trout Lake through old growth fir, cedar and hemlock, and the trail is easy to follow here. There are several campsites here, along the banks of the lake, and further back into the woods. From Trout Lake on, it starts getting steep, at about 2.6 miles in. Eventually, you break out into the open, and you can see a huge waterfall cascading down barren rock. This waterfall runs out of Copper Lake, the next lake you’ll see on this hike. The open here is traversed with switchbacks through scrub brush, and it’s steep. You’ll gain 1800 feet of elevation in 1.5 miles. This is not a section of trail that you want to do in the midday sun, so if you can, avoid that…If you go during the heat of the day, there is a small stream at the top of the switchbacks, that will be a good source of water, and a place to cool down, as it’s in the shade. Once you reach this point, the hard part is behind you. At the Malachite Lake trail junction, you’re at 4.17 miles, and the uphill is more gradual, and at 4.4 miles, you reach Copper Lake, another beautiful subalpine lake surrounded on three sides by steep, barren slopes, interspersed with clingy alpine firs. The lake walk itself rises and falls with the terrain, and there are several great viewpoints and a few campsites at the Northern end of the lake. The trail along the lake goes .7 miles over and around some jumbled boulders before you start your uphill once again at the southern end of Copper Lake. The trail is still good here, and in .5 miles, you’ll find yourself at the edge of Little Heart Lake. A small, circular lake that you really have to get off trail to see well, you can see it through the trees from where you’re at, but to take pictures, you’ll have to walk over to its banks. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere to camp here, at least that could be seen from the trail. Continuing uphill to your final destination at Big Heart Lake, you find that once again, you’re steadily going up. Another 760 feet, to be exact, and it’s a rugged trail, but along the way, you’ll have spectacular views of the deep valley to the East, over your left shoulder, towards Mt. Baker, Delta Lake down below you, and Silver Eagle Peak sitting above Delta Lake. At the high point of this ridge, it’s rocky, and dry. After you’ve topped out at 4935ft, you’ll drop back down to the edge of Big Heart Lake, at 4162 ft elevation. A spectacular deep blue lake, surrounded by barren peaks, still adorned in small snow fields, and sparse alpine firs. Its outlet creates a long sloping falls that helps to cool you on hot days. The lake itself is warm enough to swim in, and it also is a refreshing way to end a hike. If you bring your trout pole, there is ample fishing, as well. There are a few good campsites here at the Northern edge of the lake, and they are close to the water’s edge. Further in, and up beyond a small meadow covered in low lying blueberries to a site that was perched overlooking the lake, where you are able to take in all its’ beauty. A little further from water, but the views were spectacular. From here sitting with my back against a convenient rock face, you can look left, and see the lake and surrounding peaks, and look right, and see Mt. Baker in the distance, across several smaller hills and valleys. There is, from here, another hikers trail that heads off towards Angeline Lake, that lies just over the ridgeline, that does not show up on some maps. Permit required for overnight camping.

13 days ago

Copper Lake is 7.3 miles from the trailhead.

I have no idea where people are getting this incorrect milage data from, but they are wrong (and strava is notoriously inaccurate). I just did this hike with TWO different GPS devices and both read over 7miles. Both times, in and out. (that's 4 different recordings resulting in the same data...)

That means the hike is 14.6 miles round trip.

The sign also says Trout lake is 1.5mi. It's 2 miles.

Due to this poor/incorrect info we were only able to make it to Copper Lake.

Over 4miles are nothing but switchbacks, and they are not easy. They start about .3miles past Trout Lake and continue all the way to Copper Lake.

The switchbacks have several stretches with zero shade which means direct sunlight for most of the day. There are also several sections of the switchbacks with overgrown plants. You will get smacked in the face and scratch your ankles for about 2 miles. Several patches have loose rocks and loose sand/dirt with drop offs bordering them. But as an acrophobic, it wasn't too bad. I did hurt my knee and ankle on the switch backs. Be careful.

Make no mistake, this is NOT a moderate trail. This is quite strenuous. Especially if you are backpacking with intent to camp. Anything over a 30lbs backpack will make this hike quite tough.

The bugs were also relentless. Bug spray did little to help, so I would strongly suggest a bug net for your head, especially if you are camping. Because it will be miserable.

Copper Lake itself is also very dull. Sure the water is clear... so is Trout Lake... so is every lake in the region. There are very few places to actually access the water (ie swimming, fishing, camping, even getting water for cooking). I've been to many, MANY, more impressive lakes that did not require this level of effort to get to. Honestly... Trout Lake is better than Copper Lake.

There are a few decent viewpoints, one overlooking Trout Lake from the switchbacks, and another slightly further up of the valley below.

I also did this with my dog. She did just fine, but has some sore paws after it all. There is a lot of rock/gravel terrain. Be sure to bring water for them. AND KEEP YOUR DOGS ON A LEASH! I saw so many dogs of leash. Seriously it's not only illegal to have your dog off leash, it's infuriating. It doesn't matter if your dog is friendly or well behaved. You have no idea how it will interact with other dogs or people, or how they will interact with your dog.

You are ruining the experience for others when you ignore rules/laws/trail etiquette.

All things considered: the incorrect info about the trail, the endless switchbacks, the bugs, and a mediocre lake, I'd say just skip this hike.

19 days ago

A gorgeous trip. My best friend and I started at 9:30am and went up to big heart lake and the one above it and back to the car by 5:30pm with a 1-2min water break every 20min or so and an hour for lunch and swimming. The lakes were definitely very cold but bearable and felt great to ice sore feet. Bring a hat because for a lot of the hike your arms and face are exposed in the sun while you hike thru gorgeous wildflowers. A very very well maintained trail. Lots of campsites and we passed three trail workers on our way who said they were so bored because they had nothing to do haha. A wonderful day trip. The issue was the bugs. I'm not a complainer but the upper lakes have serious fly, hornet and mosquitoes, however I wasn't bit once by anything with zero bug repellant on me. Mainly my ears got attacked by that annoying thing flies do. If you're moving, nothing bothers you but as soon as you stop they swarm. Still, neither of us were bit. Just bring a gallon of spray. Don't let that keep you from the hike though! It was gorgeous.

1 month ago

Went with some buddies for a couple days. Hiked in friday evening for a quick camp set up. Got up mid morning Saturday and hiked up to Copper Lake took some pool floats and floated/fished for a couple hours. Moved on to Little Heart hit the peak in between little and big but one buddy was worse for wear so we turned back and made camp back by Copper.

Bug netting currently is a must they get quite thick in areas. There is a longer stretch in between Trout and Copper Lake that is exposed to the sun so some refill water often(we used sawyer squeeze filters) and remember sunscreen.

Overall the beauty and experience is worth the trip Enjoy!

1 month ago

Only went as far as Copper Lake. Sign says 4 miles - I say 5. Beautiful hike though. Copper lake was so beautiful- almost surreal. I suggest mosquito netting/bug deterrent though.

11 months ago

Went on a a day hike with the intentions of getting to Big Heart Lake. We got to the trailhead early, but I wasn't feeling the best so we took it slow and we ended up turning around at Little Heart. Beautiful sights all around. Waterfalls, creeks, and of course multiple beautiful lakes to explore. There were some wildflowers still left at this point in August, as well as plenty of berries to pick. We took the trail to Malachite Lake which was pretty steep, but well worth it. Definitely looking forward to returning for a few days with backpacks to complete the trek!

My phone also died so we were only able to record our hike in!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

There are many lakes, do it is a good idea to know which Lake you're looking for.
I went Thursday-Saturday and on Friday it got pretty busy.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The hike is beautiful, and can be done in one day - all the way to Big Heart and back took about 8 hours. Although Copper lake looked more interesting for camping. After the fall rains the waterfalls were quite amazing!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bring bug netting! The mosquitos were insane. I didn't bring a tent or bivy and was kicking myself. I planned to do 2 nights at Big Heart, and cut it short after the first night. Otherwise, the hike and scenery were superb!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mosquitos were terrible. They seemed to be the worst at Big Heart Lake. Otherwise, it was great. Beautiful views everywhere you look once you get past the first couple lakes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Great hike, definitely not for the weak of heart or legs but the hike up to Copper Lake is beautiful and there are a lot of cool camping spots! Worth the relentless and steep hike! Trout lake would make an awesome beginners hike

Monday, June 15, 2015

this hike starts out easy to trout lake, but immediately after, the trail steepens and becomes much more rugged. although a tough climb, the lakes waterfalls, and views give you many rewards along the way. Hiked that day to copper lake in a little less than 4 hours and camped there. but the next day, meandered to little heart lake where we saw a few campsites that looked really nice and secluded.
highs of the hike: lots of rewards, variety of scenery
lows of the hike: many people, rugged terrain

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The trail to Trout Lake was easy going and suitable for any age. The shallow lake itself was not very interesting but peaceful and from what I could tell a popular fishing destination with a couple of camping sites. Beyond Trout Lake the trail became rocky and gained elevation becoming more difficult. After about another mile is the first glance of massive Malachite Falls which are about twice as big as nearby Wallace Falls and very impressive. Shortly after the bridge crossing below Copper Lake I ran into deep snow. I was scrambling around a bit before finally finding beautiful Copper Lake. I turned around from there in order to avoid getting lost. I plan on coming back in the future and making it to all of the lakes. The pot holes on the dirt road to the TH are big and they are deep, but if you take your time you shouldn't have any trouble.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

This trail is awesome. Not easy, but not hard until after Trout Lake, that's when you really start to climb. The first lake (Trout Lake) is only a mile and a half in, and so worth to walk. I went the last 2 weekend of May. There were still fallen trees on the trail the first time out, but there were cleared the following weekend. The first time up I only went to Trout lake and this lake is so beautiful. Crystal clear and with the snow covered mountains behind it looked amazing. On the second trip out I had planned to go all the way to Big Heart Lake. Less then a mile from Copper Lake the trail was lost under the snow pack, and once I realized that there was flowing water under most of the snow I was walking on, I turned around and camped close to Trout Lake. The views were breath taking at one point I could see 5 water falls at once. Loved this trail.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Took our 3 year old son on his first hike, he walked to Trout Lake and we hand to carry him back. Large Hemlocks and the rapids near the bridge make this one worth it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

This trail has a lot going on if you are paying attention. Got to the 4+ mile off-roading trailhead a little after 8am today with 1 car in the parking lot. SUV/Truck with 4-wheel drive is a MUST to reach this trailhead-dirt road with LOTS of washboards and pot holes.
Trail is not heavily used at all-lots of overgrown brush, loose rocks, massive fallen trees to climb over, and stream crossings. It was a great day to hike and everything was going well until we hit the 4.5 mile mark. The snow pack came on at his point and did not give up, we turned around at 4.9 miles defeated, promising to return for a late summer trek to Angeline and Big Heart Lake.

Monday, July 29, 2013

We only made it to the first lake, trout lake, because we had a 10-year-old with us. Not the best trail for kids. An easy trail to follow, weaving around the river. Once at the lake there are signs for restrooms, but when you follow the signs.... No restrooms. Bring TP.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

beautiful lakes, went as far as the fifth one (Big Heart Lake). Trail is well defined but very rugged/

28 days ago

10 months ago

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Saturday, August 01, 2009