+13 15 votes

Fern Lake Backpack

The larches of Fern Lake


Photos and Trip Details by Dave Morris.


Attraction: A high (6,894’) and scenic lake rimmed by peaks that are nearly 8,000 feet tall. The final 1.5 miles of trail leading to the lake is a hump, gains 1,700 vertical feet, and (as of the time this post was prepared in September 2010) is poorly maintained.  There’s lots of deadfall across this portion of trail, bee’s nests to contend with, and scrambling. But these troubles afford entrance to a pretty, moderately isolated lake. Camp here and enjoy the views of the Entiat Mountains as well as the nighttime star show (this is a dark part of the state). The fishing ain’t bad either – the fish are scrawny but they’re hungry so you’re likely to catch some. While this hike can certainly be done as a day trip, we’d recommend spending the night after going through the trouble of beating your way up that final 1.5 miles.


Skill: 2 to 2+ (intermediate to advanced intermediate).

Fitness: 1If done as an overnight 2 (intermediate), 3 (advanced) as a day trip.



Distance: 15 miles (round trip). Elevation gain: 3,000 feet.

This trip is recommended as an overnight trip but can be done as a day trip.


Map: See our topo map of this trip.


Access. From Highway 97A at the mouth of the Entiat River (just south of the town of Entiat), drive up the Entiat River Road roughly 32 miles up the river and then branch off to the right on the North Fork Road. Follow the North Fork Road up a steeper, switchbacking grade 4 miles to the trailhead (3,960 feet). Northwest Forest Pass required for parking.


Trip Instructions:

  • Follow the North Fork Entiat River Trail #1437 (a good and relatively gentle trail) for 6 miles). Then take a left on The Fern Lake Trail #1436 and head west up a steep trail that in 1.5 miles gains 1,700 feet. At the time of this posting, the Fern Lake Trail had lots of deadfall across it, was hard to find in places, involved scrambling, and with an overnight pack took a few hours to surmount.
  • If camping there are a few places to camp on the southeast and south ends of the lake.


Trip Reporter: Dave Morris supplied the trail information and photos for this post (September 7, 2010).


Permit. Northwest Forest Pass required for the parking.

More Hikes: Maps and details of over 150 regional walks in our on-line hiking guidebook.

Leave It Better Than You Found It
. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…

 Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers--they may make mistakes or may not know all the issues affecting a route.You are still completely responsible for your decisions, your actions, and your safety. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.