Lake Lillian and Mt. Margaret 

Take this alternate "backdoor" approach to Lake Lillian and skip the crowds.

Our Apps

Map Tools

Share Trip
  • E-mail Trip
  • Embed Map
  • Social Bookmarks
    more bookmarks...

Download To

Create a Trip
* Requires a Trip Planner or Elite Membership
Author: HikingWithMyBrother
Date: 5 Jul 2010 3:02:17 AM
Source: GPX file
Activity: Hiking
State: Washington (WA)
Distance: 5.32 mi  (Change units)
Average Speed: 1.3 mph - 0:45:06/mi
Duration: Total: 4:00:00
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 2158 ft
Total Loss: 242 ft
Net Change: 1916 ft
Difficulty: 8 / 10
Tags: Cle Elum,, Lake Lillian, Mt. Margaret, Seattle, Twin Lakes, Washington
Rating:   1 rating(s) Rate it

We’re always looking for ways to extend a hike to nearby peaks and lakes. Often, when trying to dig up more information on a hike, we’ll stumble across new trailheads and alternative approaches. This is exactly what happened when we were contemplating a climb to the top of Mt. Margaret – a trip that would require re-hiking the Lake Lillian Trail #1332. Instead, we found an unofficial “shortcut” trail to Lake Lillian, which allowed us to access the mountaintop from an entirely different direction with less mileage. Happy to be breaking new ground, we packed up and headed out to Hyak.

Unsurprisingly, the unofficial trail is rough and haphazardly scraped into the mountainside. The steep half-mile to Lake Laura and the main trail follows Rocky Run Creek past slide alders, devil’s club and the occasional hemlock. The creek sports a couple of impressive cascades that are easily accessed and worth the short diversion. As the trail briefly plateaus, a spur leads down the few hundred yards to Lake Laura. Access to the lakeshore is limited, but clambering on the rocky cliffs for a better view of the waterfall were enough to tempt us down to the water.

Whether you take the side trip down to Laura or not, the path quickly connects with the Lake Lillian Trail. From here, you have a choice; push up the short distance to Lake Lillian or head right toward Mt. Margaret. The placid waters of Lake Lillian sit beneath Rampart Ridge, quietly fueling Rocky Run Creek. It is possible to skirt the edge of the lake and slog up the ridge to Rampart Lakes and on to Alta Mountain. However, when the lake is high from snowmelt, the shoreline is fairly steep and requires some careful footwork to get around.

If the sun is shining and you’d like a view, head up to Mt. Margaret. Now on a refreshingly well-maintained official trail, the hike becomes easier. In a half-mile you’ll hike past Twin Lakes and look up to the rocky top of Mt. Margaret. From here, begin switchbacking up the shoulders of Margaret until the trail levels out and begins to traverse along the mountainside. Keep an eye out for a faint spur trail following a ridge to the summit and follow it to the top. Once there, find Laura, Lillian and Twin Lakes on display below. On the other side, Margaret Lake sits at the base of the mountain, with Stonesthrow Lake a little further beyond. Sit back and enjoy the quiet.

This is a fun little approach to Lillian, which is a nine-mile hike from the official trailhead. It’s on the more difficult side, but it is a great alternative to the more popular route. If you’re going purely for Mt. Margaret, the official approach is probably more efficient, but includes walking along gravel logging roads and lengthy stretches through recent clear-cuts. Although the road to the shortcut trailhead is currently a bit overgrown, the scenery is much more pleasant from this approach. You’re also unlikely to run into too many other people, as most hikers opt for the traditional trailhead.

Also consider following us at:

TO TRAILHEAD: Take I-90 to Hyak Exit 54 and head left under the freeway then right on the frontage road for 2 miles to graveled FR 4832. Follow 1 mile to an intersection. Head left onto an unmarked road, labeled FR 136 on maps. Continue for about 2 miles to a major switchback and a small parking area.

Position Format: Datum:

Track 001

Distance: 2.41 mi Points: 1710
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi

Track 002

Distance: 0.15 mi Points: 111
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi

Track 003

Distance: 0.10 mi Points: 66
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi

Points of Interest


Location: 47.390802, -121.347325
Pull into a small gravel parking area which marks the trailhead for the Lake Lillian Shortcut Trail. Don't expect trail signs or easy going on this volunteer made trail.


Location: 47.391580, -121.346977
The trail starts out amid the fireweed, salmonberry, and brush that often accompanies clear-cut forest.


Location: 47.395139, -121.344810
This is the first of three significant waterfalls that are worth noting on Rocky Run Creek.

1st Falls

Location: 47.395154, -121.344767
A dramatic drop that is worth an up-close look.


Location: 47.395899, -121.344123
The second, are arguably the most photogenic set of falls on this trip. These falls are off trail, so you will need to bushwhack to get to them.


Location: 47.396840, -121.341976
A small side trail leading to the left goes 400ft to Lake Laura. This is a quick and worthwhile side trip to see the third set of falls on Rocky Run Creek.


Location: 47.397769, -121.342576
Lake Laura is smallish, and is feed by Rocky Run Creek that spills over the sheer cliffs that damn in Lake Lillian above.


Location: 47.397214, -121.340555
Junction with the official Lake Lillian Trail #1332. Take the short side trip to the left to reach lake Lillian. The trail climbs up 300ft in a few tenths of a mile to the lake. To get to Mount Margaret, turn right and slightly downhill at the junction.


Location: 47.399107, -121.339562
Lake Lillian is located at the southern end of Rampart Ridge. Continue following the trail to the left along the steep rocky shore line for more views of the lake.

Lake Lillan

Location: 47.399163, -121.339424
The snow covered Lake Lillian on the verge of melting out.


Location: 47.395386, -121.341076
Talus and avalanche fields are prevalent on this stretch of the trail.

Stream Crossing

Location: 47.391798, -121.339874
Stream of water coming out of Twin Lake carves through the snow pack.


Location: 47.389850, -121.338822
This pair of small and shallow pools are know as Twin Lakes. The shallow waters are known to attract birds.

Twin Lakes

Location: 47.388544, -121.339552
View of the shallow Twin Lakes from the south shore.


Location: 47.381110, -121.342235
Junction with a minor trail that leads up the ridge to the summit of Mt. Margaret. Follow this trail to the top!


Location: 47.383285, -121.339302
The summit of Mt. Margaret at 5560ft. Look down to the south to Lake Margaret below. To the North is Rampart Ridge. The falls dropping out of Lake Lillian are also visible.

Lillies and Lake

Location: 47.383256, -121.339209
Looking down through a field of yellow glacier lilies to snow covered Lake Margaret.

Break point

Location: 47.383285, -121.339231
Taking a well deserved break after a tough climb to the top.

Comparable Trips

Comments  Post a comment
0 Trip Comments