Wagonwheel Lake Trail

HARD 60 reviews
#66 of 173 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.

Distance: 4.9 miles Elevation Gain: 3,336 feet Route Type: Out & Back




nature trips

bird watching




wild flowers


no dogs

Please note that during the winter the road to the trailhead may be closed. Please check with the park before visiting in winter.

2 months ago

Marvelously steep trail as a fantastic workout. Really, one should go all the way to Cub Peak. The views from up there above Wagonwheel Lake are not to be missed.

2 months ago

Hiked 10/25/19. Most brutal few miles of my life on a hike. It’s like climbing straight up a slope, with barely any switchbacks. I planned for a 5-6 mile hike but it felt like 10-12 easily. You get an occasional nice view, but I’m not convinced it was worth the painstaking efforts. It takes like 45+ minutes per mile. It was great for what it was, but I think I could’ve put out the same effort with greater rewards on other trails.

5 months ago

Trail from hell. Pretty amazing though. You’ll feel like you’re close to the lake at like 6 different points, but you’re still hours away at all of them. Beautiful once you get to the lake. Trip back down is long and painful.

8 months ago

Trail was extremely difficult. Made it to mile 3.0 to find snow, could not continue without snow shoes. Descent was very hard on the knees. Great workout, will do it again!

9 months ago

So the first part of this seems to have no snow anymore. I don’t know about farther up I only went about a mile up. I ran across a cave and since I was hiking by myself I didn’t know if it contained bears.

10 months ago

Park road to trailhead was closed due to snow and ice. We were able to park outside the gate and walk our way into the park then to the trailhead. Sign at the park says the trail is only 2.9mi which is inaccurate. At this time, we had to use yak tracks and then snow shoes due to 3 ft of snow...which makes the trail more difficult going up. We were sinking in the snow even with snow shoes. Lots of hooves and paw tracks on our way up. Hard but worth the challenge! I would recommend this trail in the summer!

11 months ago

One of the steepest hikes of my life. Extremely difficult, but well worth it once you get to the top. Plan for a longer-than-normal few mile hike. Trail gets to be somewhat difficult to find once you get above the tree line, so be mindful of that.

Tue Nov 20 2018

Greak hike! Keep going past the lake. It's more rewarding for the extra 0.5 miles. About 4 miles in total. 3 hrs up & 2 hrs down. I went on 11/17/18, no bugs and the lake wasn't frozen. But it is very wet, so wear water proof pants and bring extra socks. It was slippery and the trail edge can crumble if you step too close to it. Definitely a calf & thigh burner!

Thu Sep 20 2018

Very steep. Slippery in places and the plant life is almost like a jungle as you get close to the lake. If you have bad knees, the descent while annihilate them. My favorite part was Cub Peak. While your legs are burning and shaking and you just want off the trail, it’s worth the extra bit to ascend to Cub Peak. Far better than the lake. The hike was a great challenge and the views at the end were beautiful. Throughout the hike there aren’t a ton of views and it’s VERY challenging. I probably won’t do it again.

Wed Sep 05 2018

This was pretty hard. I run marathons for fun and this was a good workout. My wife who does not, felt like dying and is still sore 2 days later. The view was good at the lake, I am not sure it was worth the effort.

Sat Aug 04 2018

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

Thu Aug 02 2018

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!

Sun Jul 29 2018

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

Tue Jul 17 2018

Amazing swim on a hot day

Sun Jul 01 2018

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

Mon May 21 2018

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.

Wed Aug 30 2017

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!

Wed Aug 23 2017

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!

Tue Apr 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

Sun Feb 19 2017

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

Tue Feb 14 2017

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

Thu Dec 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!

Sun Dec 04 2016

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

Sun Aug 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!

Fri Aug 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!

Sat Jul 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!

Sun Oct 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.

Mon Aug 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.

Tue Jun 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!

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