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Showing posts with label Best guidebooks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Best guidebooks. Show all posts

Snowshoe Routes Washington

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In my opinion snowshoeing is not rocket science. It's one of those outdoor sports/activities that doesn't require special training or great physical shape. Just put on your snowshoes and go. But where to ?

The biggest challenge with snowshoeing is not the activity itself, but finding the right destination. Where to go, how to find the trailhead, the distance, average time, steepness,landscape...

That's why Snowshoe Routes Washington is the must-have guide for beginners and advanced winter hikers who will appreciate the detailed trail descriptions, photos, and personal narratives. When it is raining during the Seattle winter - grab your shoes, this book and head out. Your are sure to find deep powder and a great trail.

Remember, don't solely rely on the book. I know people who use guide books as "the maps". Wherever you go, don't forget to bring a topo map of the region, check the avalanche conditions before heading out, let somebody know where you are going, check in with a ranger at the station ( if there is one), leave a note in your car with the details of your trip and expected return time ( did I forget 10 essentials ?).

The outings described in the book are for all skill levels, from beginner to experienced mountaineer. Many are within easy driving distance from metropolitan regions including Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellingham, Olympia, and Yakima. Most trips start from Sno-Park areas for easy access.

Fatbiking Kendall Peak In Washington State

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Even though fatbiking is gaining popularity in such outdoorsy states as Alaska, Oregon, California, Colorado, Utah, in Washington state it's still relatively new and exotic. I can personally attest that these kooky-looking bikes attract a lot of eyeballs, and everybody wants to talk to you, and give it a try.

Over the past few years fatbike popularity has skyrocketed. More and more fatbikes and fatbike brands are springing up ranging from cheap Walmart brands to expensive adventure racing and hunting specific.

Many "hard core cyclists" see these bikes with the clown sized tires as silly and unnecessary. While most definitely fatbikes are not for everyone, they aren’t just a passing fad, and they're here to stay.

Personally for me, fatbikes are all about possibilities and fun ( but I've got to admit, it's kinda cool to get all that attention too :)) !

Being A Tourist In Seattle : Seattle Underground Tour.

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Seattle has tons of famous, unique, and quirky things to see : Space Needle and EMP Museum, Boeing plant and Amazon headquarters, "Sleepless in Seattle" houseboat and Bill Gates mansion, Statue of Lenin and the Fremont Troll, Pike Place Market and Gum Wall,  Bruce Lee and Jimmy Hendrix graves, and etc.

But one attraction plays a very important role in the history, and tourism industry of our beloved city. One place you don't want to miss while in Seattle - Seattle Underground.

The Seattle Underground is a network of underground passageways and basements in downtown Seattle that was ground level at the city's origin in the mid-1800s.

In 1889 the Great Seattle Fire destroyed 25 city blocks. Instead of rebuilding the city as it was before, the city leaders made two strategic decisions: that all new buildings must be of stone or brick, insurance against a similar disaster in the future; and to regrade the streets one to two stories higher than the original street grade. After the streets were elevated these spaces below fell into disuse.

What's Your Favorite Bike Ride Around Puget Sound ?

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Are you stuck in a rut riding the same bike path over and over again ? Would you like to try out new rides and trails ? Need more detailed information about more options and opportunities to ride around Puget Sound ?

Biking Bis blog published a video interview with the author of "Biking Puget Sound: 50 rides from Olympia to the San Juans " book, where he talks about his book.

The book gives detailed description of 50 scenic, entertaining and challenging rides for cyclists of all levels.
  • Each ride includes a map and a turn-by-turn route guide.
  • An elevation profile shows an overview of the terrain on each ride
  • An engaging narrative tells readers what to expect on each route.
  • A locator map and quick reference guide with difficulty, length and highlights enable readers to quickly choose appropriate rides.
"We are fortunate to live in a cycling wonderland, with the beauty of nature found everywhere, from diverse city parks to agricultural valleys, from waterfront lanes to island coastlines to mountainous back roads."
I am looking forward to buying this book , and exploring the greater Puget Sound area. Though I've been riding my bike for quite some time, just like many, I tend to ride the same trails ( with Interurban being the closest to my home, and my favorite one ! ). Hope to find more fun routes to try !

Stand Up Paddle Fitness With Nikki Gregg

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Previously, I wrote about the upcoming release of Nikki Gregg's DVD "Stand Up Paddle Fitness with Nikki Gregg"... Below is a short clip from the DVD that shows one of the exercises that will help you transform your body and reap the health benefits of stand up paddling while having fun...

100 Best Cross Country Ski Trails In Washington

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Cross country skiing is a great, invigorating, affordable, and simple-to-learn sport. Not a lot of gear required – just good, healthy fun! It is both easy and accessible.
According to Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall the authors of  100 Best Cross Country Ski Trails in Washington
The mountainous terrain throughout the entire Washington state ensures that all of Washington's residents have access to excellent cross-country skiing, whether on groomed trails, on scenic logging roads, or on open slopes of glacier-covered volcanoes.
That's true. Almost all ski areas in our state have groomed/ungroomed XC trails that are easily accessible, withing driving distance form Seattle and well maintained.

But you don't have to limit yourself to the same places.

10 Adventures To Try In The San Juan Islands

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The Essential San Juan Islands Guide

I call the San Juan Islands - "Hawaii of the Pacific Northwest" !

The coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest, between mainland Washington and Vancouver Island, contain hundreds of islands, some little more than sandbars, others rising 3,000 feet. Among these, the San Juans are considered by many to be the loveliest.

The San Juan Island offer something for everyone. The islands are especially attractive to adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts.

We spent a few gorgeous early fall days, exploring the two of the most fun islands - Orcas and San Juan. Below, I offer a few suggestions if you plan to do more than just sitting on the beach and enjoying the sun :

Mountain Biking Mt Adams, WA

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Mt Adams area offers more than one thousand miles of trails that are woven throughout the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and many are open to mountain bikers.

If you're ExtraHyperActive like me, Mt Adams is a great little getaway from Seattle for a perfect multi-sport weekend.

Though my main goal was to climb/ski Mt Adams, having heard a lot about the abundance of opportunities for both road and mountain biking, I decided to take my bike along to explore the area and a few local mountain bike trails.

Conveniently for me, Cold Springs trail #72 was located at the same camping ground as the main climbing rout - South Climb #183

Open to mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians, Cold Springs trail is  3.7 miles long, and offers amazing wildflowers viewing and the sights of A.G. Aiken Lava Flow.  Much of the trail travels through an area heavily burned in the Cold Springs Fire of 2008.

The trail interacts with a few other major trails making a great way to explore the area by bike. If you decide to ride this trail one way, keep in mind, it's pretty steep, and the way up could be more  than you bargained for ( especially if you have to climb Mt Adams the next day like I did :)).

But riding my bike with Mt Adams in the background was one of the highlights of my trip !

Tacoma Hosts A New Mountain Bike Park

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I said it years ago : Washington is becoming a new mountain biking mecca in US !

With Stevens Pass mountain bike park, Duthie Hill in Issaquah, and thousand of miles of well maintained trails around the state, Washington easily competes with such famous mountain bike places like Whistler, Utah, and Colorado.

And now a new mountain bike park in Tacoma has become a great addition of places to ride around the state. It's nice to finally have an area in the South Sound we can rally around.

Swan Creek Park is a 290 acre greenspace nestled on the boundary between East Tacoma and Pierce County with a salmon bearing stream, wooded canyon, upland forest, paved and natural trails, a new community garden, and new mountain bike trails.

The park is popular for bird watching, hiking, walking, picnicking and other recreational uses, and is also used for driver training by public safety and utility departments. And now it's the home of Tacoma's first trail system for mountain bikes!

Developed and operated in partnership with Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, the newly completed Phase 1 includes an easy perimeter trail, advanced trails and a technical skill building zone. There is something there for everybody from little kids to full-grown rippers.

May be because it's a new park, and not many features have been built yet, I felt the park was more suitable for novice to intermediate riders like me. I especially liked "Hustle & Flow" - a 1.75 mi cross country loop that circumnavigates the ~50 acre Douglas Fir Forest. Designed to be similar to Bootcamp at Duthie Hill -- smooth and flowy with lots of rollers and banked turns, max sustained climbs and descents, optional features. Skill level: Green (entry) level and kid/family-friendly but fun to rip for all ages and skill levels. Some more difficult options.

Since the park is relatively new, the skill building features only include : skinny practice zone, drop zone and pump track on the north side of the park.

But if all goes well at Swan Creek, Metro Parks and Evergreen hope they can soon start building more trails in the forest.

In my opinion, Washington is one of the best places to be a mountain biker in the continental United States ! From freshwater lakes to towering peaks and green valleys, Washington's landscape is as exciting as it is diverse.

 Below, check out Mountain Bike! Washington (America by Mountain Bike) the guidebook that will introduce you to the thrill of exploring Washington's wilderness while you experience its most unforgettable rides.

Mexico Travel Tips : The Yucatan Peninsula

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According to Wiki:
Mexico is one of the most popular tourist countries on earth. Much of the tourist industry is centered around the beach resorts as well as the altiplano in the central part of the country. American tourists tend to predominate on the Baja peninsula and the more modernized beach resorts (Cancún, Puerto Vallarta)...
Visiting Mexico has been on my Bucket List for quite some time, and as soon as I got my new passport, I decided to make this dream come true !

For the last two years, there has been a lot of negative talk about traveling to Mexico. This spring, U.S. issued widest travel warning to Mexico since 2006. The U.S. State Department advised that United States citizens should avoid all "non essential" travel to 14 of 31 Mexican states.

Though the General Consul of Mexico, Roberto Rodriguez Hernandez, called the new U.S. warning an exaggeration, traveling to Mexico ( even it's traditional tourist destinations along the Mayan Riviera ) should not be taken lightly.

Here are a few tips I'd like to share that, hopefully, will make your trip safer and more enjoyable:

1 - Go All Inclusive.

Personally, it's not my style of traveling. I can hardly spend a few hours on the beach doing nothing. But if you're traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula, staying at one of those all inclusive resorts might be one of your best options. Here is why : Though "Mexican law" says that nobody can own a beach in this country, this is just a bunch of BS.

The whole Zona Hotelera in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen is dotted with resorts which closely guard their territory against "intruders". They don't have visitor parking, you can't buy shit at their bars and restaurants, and God forbids if you use one of their lounge chairs ( there are guards every 100 feet which makes you feel like you're in a very luxury prison ).

When you're staying at an all inclusive resort, all ( or most ) drinks, food, activities, rentals are included in the price. Resort staff speaks decent English, can get you a cab, or recommend a restaurant or an activity ( just remember, they DO get paid commission, so it's in THEIR best interest to recommend you that restaurant, club or a company ).

2- Don't even think about renting a car

I'll write another post about my misadventure with renting and driving in Mexico, but in short, renting a car in the Yucatan Peninsula is just a waste of money.


If you do decide to rent a car, you'd better be comfortable with bribing a government official. Believe me, it's quite an experience !

3 - Agree on the price before getting into a taxi

Set taxi fares before getting in. If you have a problem, take his number off the car & report it to your hotel. Have smaller bills ( pesos, of course ! ).

4 - Find best deals on tours and activities online

There are so many things to do and to see in the Yucatan Peninsula, that when I was planning me trip I was overwhelmed with the choices. But keep in mind that many of the same trips are "advertised" by many different "local independent travel reps". You'll see a lot of "travel tour booths" everywhere, and some of those "agents" are very annoying. They deliver no value, quite useless, and speak poor English. Usually, the prices are about 10-30% more than what you'd normally pay. One of the sites I found useful is Cancun Discounts.

5 - Using pesos is your best bet

I was advised against exchanging money at banks, yet I found banks that pay the most pesos for your buck. The only disadvantage is that you have to produce your passport ( unlike exchange houses ). Most ATMs at resorts give you American dollars, BUT ! I withdrew $200 , and the "commission' was ...$36 ! Street ATMs give you pesos. Credit cards are widely accepted, with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express being the most popular.

6 - Crossing a street in Mexico is not a privilege, it's a challenge.

YOU DO NOT have the right of way even in a cross walk or at a red light. Be on the defensive. Taxi & bus drivers do not have any education and think that the road holds 3 things; 1) Their vehicle, 2) Their garbage & 3) Their right of way. So RUN when crossing the street.

7- Don't worry, they "speak" English

Honestly, I didn't try to "communicate" with locals, but whenever I needed to buy something, or to be exact, whenever they tried to sell me some crap or to scam a few lousy pesos out of me, they spoke decent English.


You know the rule of thumbs - not to drink in Mexico, but I'd also avoid eating "authentic/street food". Not because it gives you monster diarrhea, but simply because you're not used to this type of food. Elote ( or Esquites ) at Mexico street stands is one of those things you must eat in Mexico ( I almost gagged the first time I saw it, but it turned out to be quit delicious ! )

9 - No free WI-FI for you, amigo

Seriously McDonald's, WTF is my free WI-FI ? You brought your shitty corporation to this country, but too cheap to give this poor people free internet ? Shame on you !

10 - Use sunscreen even on an overcast day.

I came back from my trip looking like a fried chicken, with my skin peeling from all that Cancun sun tanning. If you plan to spend an extensive period in the sun, ease your way into it over a week, use plenty of sunscreen, and avoid using any lotions or creams that contain alcohol.

The final and the most important tip that I'd like to share - remember, you are going to another country. Don't expect the world to fall at your feet. You can have an amazing cultural experience if you give a little, and in return you'll get a lot! Smile!

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Mountain Biking Tiger Mt

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It's been a long time since I took my mountain bike on a trail. Since the last time I went biking on Devil's Gulch in Leavenworth, I've been mostly riding on Interurban trail next to my house.

But today, I decided to check out a few trails on Tiger Mt.

Tiger Mountain is one of Seattle's most popular mountain biking destinations. Its close proximity to Seattle, good parking facilities, and a variety of trail difficulties draw the masses.

Unfortunately, what used to be a great FREE trailhead for hikers and mountain bikers before, now requires a Discover Pass to park your car.

Though, trails vary in difficulty, and I had my trusted Mountain Biking Washington guide book, I decided to take it easy, and just go for a moderate run along the main logging road ( Tiger Mountain Road ).

Unlike Devil's Gulch, trails on Tiger Mt are not the most picturesque, but as I've mentioned above, the area has its advantages : it's close to Seattle, plenty of parking, and trails are great for riders of all levels.

For more information, check out the book below, or visit Evergreen Mountain Biking Alliance web site...

What Is Bouldering ?

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Bouldering is defined as: One of the purest forms of climbing, with no ropes or other protection and normally limited to very short climbs over a crash pad. It is typically practiced on large natural boulders or artificial boulders in gyms and outdoor urban areas.

At fist glance, bouldering doesn't look like "real" climbing. The fact of the matter is that bouldering is a great way to advance one’s climbing ability without concern for equipment, climbing partners or even specific routes. A climber can, through bouldering, work on developing strength, technique, endurance, and memory.

Bouldering is a very social sport. A lot of bouldering is just hanging around a rock "solving problems". Boulder routes are most commonly referred to as "problems," because the nature of the climb is often short, curious, and much like problem solving.

One of the major appeals of bouldering is its relatively scant equipment requirements. You don't need ropes or any technical gear; all you need is a crash pad, some rock shoes, a chalk bag and a friend to spot you.

Though bouldering is considered to be very beginner friendly, it heavily relies on proper climbing techniques. Even though people may think bouldering to be tough, it's not, if you use the proper bouldering tips and techniques.

Central Washington is jamed-packed with quality granite boulders. Central Washington Bouldering: Leavenworth and Gold Bar guide book offers detailed description of more than 500 problems in Leavenworth and roughly 150 in Gold Bar. Specific beta,detailed maps,and dozens of rich images will get you psyched.

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Washington Ice Climbing : Banks Lake

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I'm nor sure if Banks Lake was featured in Washington Ice: A Climbing Guide book as one of Washington's premiere spots for ice climbing, but according to National Geographic Adventure:
An ice climber's paradise, Banks Lake has one of the highest concentrations of easily accessible ice in Washington.
Here is a great picture of Craig Pope, a rock climber from Moscow, Idaho crossing from an ice cave to a free-standing, 82-foot-tall icicle—without ropes or protection...

Tips on visiting Everglades National Park in summer

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Everglades National Park is one of the most famous National Parks in US.
Here are no lofty peaks seeking the sky, no mighty glaciers or rushing streams wearing away the uplifted land. Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as the source of water, but as the receiver of it...
With these words, President Harry S. Truman formally dedicated Everglades National Park on 06 December 1947 in a ceremony held at Everglades City.

It's true, this park is like no other parks in US. Most famous for its backcountry kayak and canoe adventures, the park offers a truly unique experience.

Tip - visiting Everglades National Park during "wet season" is ...unpleasant, if to say the least. Best time to visit the Everglades is December through April, with low humidity, clear skies and less mosquito.

A recent trip to Everglades City, where the park's Gulf Coast Visitor Center is located, made me rethink the whole idea of how most people visit our national parks.

The dream of paddling along the Wilderness Waterway, a 99-mile path between Everglades City and Flamingo, is ...still a dream.

Tip - if you are short on time, go for a boat trip

I only had a day to explore the area, and that's why I decided to do a typical "touristy" activity - boat tour.

There are numerous tour operators in the area, but since Everglades National Park has been declared a Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and a Wetlands International Alliance, only Everglades National Park Boat Tours is allowed to operate in its waters. All other companies operate on privately owned land/water which makes trips shorter with fewer chances to see wildlife.

There are two "official" tours - 10,000 Islands and Mangrove Wilderness.

I've always wanted to see the dense swampy part of the Everglades, and to get a face-to-face with an alligator, manatee or even the famous Burmese Python.

Tip - if you are venturing into Everglades wilderness, use bug spray/insect repellent...and A LOT OF IT ! Mosquito, horse and deer flies will eat you alive !

Tip - keep your expectations low.

It's not like the wildlife will come out to "meet and greet" you. The gaters we saw were usually no more than a pair of cold eyes staring out from the still green water, a few manatees here and there, but mostly it's the frequent calls of birds, the occasional splash of jumping fish, and the wind whistling through the leafy ceiling overhead.

Back to my thought about how most people visit our parks...

Unlike Rainier or Olympic National Parks, you can't just roll into the Everglades to snap a few pictures and call it a day. To really appreciate this park you must "go deep".

Paddling your kayak or canoe deep into the marshy backcountry waters, with claustrophobic tunnels of mangrove trees and giant cypress trees around you is the Ultimate Everglades Adventure !

Though the park's ranger station offers maps and tidal charts for sale, Paddler's Guide to Everglades National Park is the most comprehensive guide to paddling the Everglades.

The Wilderness Waterway is poorly marked, and it's easy get lost. Mangrove waterways have a tendency to look very much alike, and no place to camp besides the designated sites. So, plan accordingly, and use all means of navigation ( maps, charts, GPS, location beacon...) or hire a local guide.

New Mountain Bike Park is Coming To Redmond

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Are the rumors true : Washington is the next mountain biking mecca of US ?

Whistler, up north, is still considered the No. 1 lift accessed downhill bike park in the world; there are a couple of bike parks in Utah and Oregon, but I don't think if any of those states offer the quality of natural setting that Washington has.

The Duthie Hill
Mountain Bike Park has already gained popularity among riders all around NW; the development of Stevens Pass Bike Park is in full swing; and now the City of Redmond Parks and Recreation Department is making some serious headway into the development of a new mountain bike park.
Redmond Bike Park is a project of the City of Redmond, Parks and Recreation Department. The general goals of the project are to provide local riders of all ages and skill levels with a facility designed and built specifically for practicing and developing riding skills in a safe and controlled environment.
The design consists of five dirt-jump style trails for BMX and mountain bike riders. There will be a progression of trails from beginner to advanced, including a pump track that can be ridden by people of all skill levels. The City will lead three weekend volunteer work parties throughout the summer on June 18-19, July 16-17 and August13-14 to build the bike park. The City anticipates that with these three large work parties, and some smaller work parties in-between, that the bike park will open on August 20, 2011.

The construction of the project will require community members to volunteer their time to help build and maintain the bike park. Visit their web site and find out how you can help make Washington #1 mountain biking destination in US.


Washington Ice: A Climbing Guide Book

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I had a lot of fun trying out ice climbing at Alpental, and I was looking forward to doing more ice climbing this year, but being ExtraHyperActive, I wanted to try a new spot.

Eastern Washington University has an outdoor program called EPIC Adventures that offers outdoor adventures to students, faculty and staff. I wanted to join them this winter on their trip to Banff, Alberta for an ice climbing trip, but just couldn't find time...

Looking for new places to ice climb in Washington state, I came across this book:

Not only does it have more than 200 waterfall ice routes and alpine ice climbs, but, what is more important, it also includes information on how weather patterns affect ice routes and the best times to climb ( last year, because of the unpredictable NW winter weather, our ice climbing trip was postponed three times ).

The book also lists several Washington climbing schools that offer specific courses in ice climbing.

American Alpine Institute is one of those schools. Following their blog, I came across this video that did get me stoked and reminded about the thrills of ice climbing:

It might be too late to try ice climbing this year, but if the video above inspired you ( or at least made you curious about the sport ), check out Washington Ice: A Climbing Guide to find a school next year, or if you are brave enough, just grab a couple of ice climbing tools and head out to one of those places from the book.

Hiking Mt Washington

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Last weekend the temperature was in high 80'... 

Hiking in that heat was the last option on my "things to do" list, and my original plan was to go rock climbing at a small climbing area called "Amazonoia". 

It's a steep crag hidden "somewhere " in the trees along the Mt Washington trail with routes between 5.9 and 5.11c.

Long story short, the climbing area is so "hidden ", that I somehow missed it...and hiked all the way to the top of Mt Washington.

Since I was pretty pissed off, I can't really tell much about the hike. One thing for sure, if you don't know about this trail, it's kind of hard to find ( you can visit WTA site to get more details ).

The difficulty level, I'd say moderately difficult ( probably because it was the first time I was hiking with 20 lbs backpack). The scenery ? Not a whole lot. Unlike hikes like Mailbox or Granite Mountain, Mt Washington doesn't offer those beautiful 360 degree views.

Half way to the top, the trail splits: one way - to Mt Washington, another-to Great Wall ( which I didn't really have enough energy to explore).

If you are looking for more hikes along I-90 corridor, check out "Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Region" by A. Nelson

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Hiking Lake Ingalls In Alpine Lakes Wilderness

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There are a few great hikes that go to Lake Ingalls. The 31 mile out and back, Ingalls Creek trail is one of the most strenuous, longest ( and loneliest ) in the whole Alpine Lake Wilderness. Few hikers complete the entire trail.
Lake Ann- Ingalls Peak loop is shorter ( 19 miles).

But even more hikers ( including me ) plan a short ( 10.8 miles round trip) and easy day hike straight to Lake Ingalls.

I hear that Lake Ingalls is a popular destination and draws crowds of people in summer time. Though, parking lot was full, we didn't meet too many people along the way or even by the lake.

A couple cool features of the trail :

Ingalls Pass is dotted with many great camping spots ( official with toilets and ...."less official" ).

Mountain goats roam around the lake as if they owe the place ( one particular goat struck a pose and practically told me : " It's time for you to go").

Ingalls Lake is beautiful, inviting and...freezingly cold. Yet, a few "brave" hikers reward themselves with a cool dip ( or a cold plunge ) in the lake.

If you happen to have "hiking fishing gear" among your "10 essentials" ( fish hooks, line and some artificial lures ), try your luck fishing for trout. Want to have more "fish fun" ? Try "trout tickling" :)

One piece of gear I would recommend - insect repellent.

For a guide book, check out Backpacking Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness