Lake Ingalls is a beautiful sky-blue lake surrounded by rust-colored crags and perched in a high basin with picture-window views of Mt Stuart. Lakes don't get a whole lot prettier than this one. They also don't get a whole lot more crowded: On a sunny, late-summer weekend, it may feel like every hiker in the state has descended upon this lone lake. Take a mental-health day off of work and do this one on a weekday. Or do it later in the fall when the fair-weather crowd is tapering.
The easiest access access to Lake Ingalls is from Teanaway River south of Blewett Pass. This is a bit beyond the normal WenatcheeOutdoors driving range but we consider Mt. Stuart one of our backyard peaks and lakes situated around the base of the peak are, by association, part of that backyard.
Distance: 4 miles (one way) to the lake with a 2,250 foot elevation gain.
Difficulty. As a day trip 2+ (harder intermediate). Backpacking trip (easy intermediate).
Road Access. From the Wenatchee Valley, follow Highway 97 south of Blewett Pass about 14 miles and veer right onto Highway 970. Follow Highway 970 roughly 5 miles then turn right on the Teanaway Road. The Teanaway Road is paved for the first 13 miles. At the end of pavement, go straight, following the North Fork of the Teanaway (Road 9737). Follow Road 9737 about 9.5 miles until it ends at the Esmeralda Trailhead where the trails to Lake Ingalls and Longs Pass begin.
Trip Instructions. A good trail leads to the lake. There are two intersections to note. The first comes after about 0.3 miles. Take the right turn that climbs more steeply. The second intersection is in another mile; go left here (the right fork climbs to Longs Pass). At about the 3-mile mark, you'll reach Ingalls Pass and from here you'll traverse the Headlight Creek Basin and then climb to the lake. The trail is a little tricky to see in a few places as it moves across little rock slabs or around rock outcrops. Look for cairns if you get confused.
Map. See our topo map of the area.
Camping. Hike the trail about 3.5 miles to the Headlight Creek Basin located about a half mile before Lake Ingalls. There are designated places to camp here, As of 2008, camping was not allowed closer to the lake.
Rules. You're in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness by the time you reach Ingalls Pass (a mile before the lake). Dogs are not allowed in the wilderness area and signage early on in the hike, notes this. Also campfires are not allowed at the camping areas near the lake.
Leave It Better Than You found It. This should be every user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, disperse old fire rings, throw branches over unwanted spur trails…
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers--they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.
Photo: The view of Mt. Stuart as seen from Ingalls Pass about a mile before Lake Ingalls.