Wagonwheel Lake Trail

HARD 29 reviews
#49 of 158 trails in

Wagonwheel Lake Trail is a 4.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Lilliwaup, Washington that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October.

4.9 miles
3,336 feet
Out & Back




nature trips





wild flowers


no dogs

From Hoodsport, west 9 miles on Lake Cushman Road to Forest Service Road 24. Turn left and drive 6.5 miles to the trailhead at the Staircase Ranger Station.

10 days ago

Pretty steep, but my 7 and 9 year old kids made it.

12 days ago

So. Much. Up. Consider it your wilderness Stairmaster. Also, for what it’s worth, my GPS recorded the inbound part of the trek (to the summit of Cub[?] mountain, just above the lake) as 4.1 miles with a gain of ~4100 ft (so ~8 mi r/t). There were quite a few flies and dense foliage to slog through near the lake, but the reward was well worth it. Incredible views from the summit and an abundance of huckleberries along the upper parts of the trail. The lake is pristine and very refreshing for a swim!

15 days ago

Tough hike, but glad we made it. Had problems coming back down, because how knee problems. Definitely need to be in good shape with no orthopedic problems. Last bit of the trail needs to have some grooming, wasn't sure we where on the right trail. Hike is actually 6 miles up and back not 4.9 miles

28 days ago

Amazing swim on a hot day

1 month ago

Nice hike to the little lake. No more snow left today 6/30.

2 months ago

Very strenuous. Trail never lets up, it just keeps getting steeper and steeper. The lake was still half frozen over, which made for a cool view but all in all this trail is for the workout. Will do again.

11 months ago

Wow! This is one steep trail and will leave your legs sore. It was great to get to the lake and get in. When it seems like you won't make it- keep going. A good landmark to know you are almost there is the slide area that is like going through a jungle. As in, a machete would have been nice! LOTS of bugs at the lake. Beware!

11 months ago

Best during the summer where the snow is passable. One of the most beautiful hikes. Wagon wheel lake itself is blue as the sky and warm. And mountain goats!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Great hike but there's an avalanche shoot that we couldn't get through and there's a lot of snow but over all a great hike

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Never made it to the top, snow got too deep! Very beautiful hike! Pretty strenuous. Steep switchbacks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pretty challenging trail. There was so much snow near the top that we lost the trail.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Amazing hike! Beautiful views in fall of mountain peaks across the valley close to the lake. Mountain blueberries too! I'm very glad I wore my proper hiking shoes and packed a lunch. A personal achievement for sure!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

was a great hike. snow toward the top and the lake was very serene. bring layers if you are hikin off season.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

3 hours up, 1.75 hours down. My wife and I took about ten brakes before getting to the top. Our legs were shaking on the way down from exhaustion. The bugs were a bother toward the lake. At the lake were very aggressive wasps. For this reason, I recommend going during cooler months but not in icy conditions. Take Gatorade or water and food. We feel very accomplished now that we've done this trail but doubt we'll do it again because it's quite difficult. Have ibuprofen ready in your car and more water for when you get back. Also a bathing suit because taking a dip in the nearby river right under the bridge right afterwards was a great way to treat inflammation from this punishing trail. Good luck!

Friday, August 01, 2014

great experience for my husband & I on our honeymoon. "very steep!" was a great description on the sign. our suggestions are, pack lots of water & bring your hiking sticks. most difficult hike either one of us has been on but well worth the effort!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Don't let 3 miles fool you! Constantly steep! I weigh 215 and it took me about 2.5 hours up, 1.5 hours down. I stopped at the lake, but read there's a great 360 degree view 1/2 mile farther. Couldn't muster up the energy to go there!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nice trail, great views, tough to do, but rewarding at the end. Even though the "lake" isn't anything exciting. Recommend a lot of water, and some experience before you try it. My co-hiker and I went up, and back down in a total of 3 hours, but we were movin.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The sign wasn't kidding when it said very steep. However my group of three decided to accept the challenge. You will lose water on this hike and also gain fatigue quite quickly especially for those not use to strenuous activity. Pack at least 2L of water, bananas, and trail mix, and also a bee sting kit as all three of us were attacked. Nonetheless an awesome day hike.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Awesome hike. Reviews say it is the steepest hike in Washington and they aren't kidding but if you are looking for a challenge then this is a hike for you. The coolest thing about the hike is how quickly you climb in elevation and how many different terrains you endure. We took off around 5:10pm and weren't sure if we would be able to complete it. My dad and I are avid runners and in good shape and we hiked up rather quickly. We finished the climb right around 6:45 and in that time frame you pass through so many terrains the trail kept us guessing. We crossed snow at the top and were eventually rewarded with the lake. It was a pretty clear day and upon approaching the lake I had an out of body experience. The lake depicted a prism like reflection of the tree line to make it look like my world was turned upside down. The pure beauty and optical illusion nearly made me lose my balance. It was one of the most serene images of nature I've seen.

The trail starts slow and picks up rather quickly with steep switch backs and is really relentless throughout. Definitely the steepest hike I've done. It mellows out briefly in the middle and then picks up again until the end. Once you hit snow and are at the clearing the hike is easy all the way to the lake. Bring water as you will need it. I finished a bottle and a half by time I returned to my car. Hike took us 2.5 hours but we were moving at a good clip to beat sundown. We did not pass anyone else on the trail... Awesome!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART! extremely steep! do not attemp unless you are in excelent shape. bring more than a quart of water or you will get dehidrated. the lake is beautiful. climb down almost as hard as the climb up. steepest trail in washington by far and hardest hike ive ever done and i hike alot! 5 hrs up, 2hrs down.

Monday, July 09, 2012

I'm new to hiking. I wouldn't recommend this trail for new people unless they are chuck Norris. Steep is an understatement. I think this trail was just about the hardest thing I've done. I still feel like someone is stabbing me in the knees from the long steep walk/slide back down. Bring lots of water. Good luck

Thursday, April 12, 2012

demanding trail

Thursday, July 07, 2011

very steep, better be in peak condition, only 3 miles but feels like 10

11 days ago

1 month ago

Saturday, October 29, 2016

recorded Wagonwheel Trail

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday, August 08, 2016