Best trails for cascade high lakes

salmo_g's advice is perfect. Pick out some lakes on the map and start exploring. You can't go wrong. Even if you don't catch any fish you'll have still experienced the fabulous setting. Because low numbers of fish are used, and stocking is often infrequent, the quality of fishing in any given lake can vary greatly from year to year. That means guide books don't necessarily do you all that much good. To me, the most fun is had by exploring someplace I know nothing about. The Hi-Lakers and Trail Blazers are a couple organizations (full disclosure: I belong to both) that have websites dedicated to high lake fishing in Washington.
Hey man,
There's a book called 100 hikes within 95 miles of Seattle, or something like that. You could pick it up at REI or a similar place. It has great information about basically that whole area between I90 and 2. You can just flip through it, find what looks like a good trail and lake, check the lake out online, and go.
So, that's a good way to get started I would think. Then you can jump off the beaten track from there.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
Your question about best trails to fish mountain lakes is pretty broad and so it's tough to offer a precise answer. While there are lots of lakes in the Cascades that have fish, it covers a pretty vast area with some quite rugged terrain that makes getting to some of the more remote ones quite difficult if not downright impossible for the average guy.

Here's some practical considerations that you might want to address. What kind of shape are you in? How much backwoods experience do you have? How simple or difficult a hike do you want to do? How long do you plan to be gone? Do you want to take floatation or fish from shore? How much gear do you have? How heavy a pack are you comfortable carrying?

The answers to these will dictate which lakes might be best and which would be far beyond your physical condition, experience, and skill level.

Finding a dozen or two lakes that meet your criteria shouldn't be too hard. As already suggested, get some good maps and start gathering some kitchen table intelligence. For most Cascases hiking, avoid the Gazetteer and look for detailed topo maps from the USGS or GreenTrails or pick up a set of CDs from Topo! (I've found GreenTrails maps to be more up to date than the others.)

The advice on guidebooks is also good although the information in Fishing Washington's Central Cascades is a bit dated. Brian's advice on joining the HiLakers ( is also excellent. It just so happens that the monthly meeting is tonight, so visit the site and jot down directions. It's a teriffic group full of hiking and fishing experience. But don't join with the idea that people will give precise directions to their favorite lakes to a complete stranger. As you become a part of the group, you'll find that you'll get information back in proportion to the information you share.

As a starter destination, you might drive across the pass and up to Cooper Lake and park in the lot there. Take the relatively flat and easy trail west to Pete Lake. It follows the upper Cooper River and is quite beautiful with expansive views of the eastern Cascades.

I'll just get a USGS and go. As to backcountry experience, I am a wildlife biologist and have spent months at a time in places in remote South America so i'm not very worried. I will just be wading, i don't own a float tube (maybe a good purchase i don't know), which i assume puts my on smaller lakes. It's funny on this site it seems everyone thinks you're trying to steal there favorite spot. I'm not used to that idea in a fishing community, but i'll quiet my questions in the future. As always I appreciate the response. I wish i had known about the meeting before yesterday, but i guess there is always next month.

David Loy

Senior Moment
Bob - You might also consider the Olympics since you're already on that side of the Whulge. Many gorgeous hikes and waters, less traffic. Hit the fly shop and pick up Fly Fishing the Olympic Peninsula by Doug Rose. (Sshhh, big secret: Use the mountains as your shield against inclement weather when choosing destination.)
A lot of people like to keep good high-country lakes secret. I usually share information freely unless I think the lake is too small to support pressure.

Thus I can't tell you about my favorite lake as it is quite small and shallow. I only go about once every two does, however, have surprisingly big fish in it and a maintained trail as well. But it is a long and steep hike and since it is not as stunning as surrounding lakes it gets very few visitors.

What's my point you ask? Look for these types of lakes, ones that are overshadowed by others that are nearby, have better views, better access, etc. They will draw the typical hiker in and you can walk on past to a less visited, less stunning location that offers a better overall fishing experience.


tryin' not to get too comfortable
For most Cascases hiking, avoid the Gazetteer and look for detailed topo maps from the USGS or GreenTrails or pick up a set of CDs from Topo! (I've found GreenTrails maps to be more up to date than the others.)K
I wasn't suggesting he rely strictly on large-scale maps (ie, the Gazetteer) for full-on backcountry navigation, just that it's a good starting point.

I assumed he knew he should get a 15-minute quad for the area he wants to go into, for finer detail, since he didn't come off like a total wanker..

BTW, the bridge over the Waptus (just below the lake) is gone, so yer gonna have to wade, if you want to access the East side of the lake, where the better trails/camp spots are. Go further upstream to the horse ford, and you shouldn't have any problem wet-wading across.

For a REALLY good adventure, run up to Spade Lake from Waptus for a day-trip. Insane fishing, even without a float tube!!


tryin' not to get too comfortable
It's funny on this site it seems everyone thinks you're trying to steal there favorite spot.
I don't assume you are trying to "steal my secret spot".

I'm just not gonna give it to you.

Sorry if that offends you, or seems selfish.

Just the way it is.

Construct your own learning curve. It's a lot more satisfying that way.