Marmot, Jade, and Pea Soup Lake: Alpine Gems

Jade Lake
Dates hiked: Labor Day Weekend 2020 (Sept 5-7)
Exact stats are unclear but  ~ 26.3 mi // 5,712 ft gain
Conditions: Very popular, not too many bugs, tough to find tent sites
Permit: NW Forest Pass required for parking. Self-register for permit ~100 ft into trail.

After being amazed by Tuck and Robin Lakes in 2018, we made our way back to the Tucquala Meadows Trailhead to begin our hike to Marmot, Jade and Pea Soup Lakes via the Deception Pass Trail. The parking lot serves multiple trails and is often busy – be prepared to park on the side of the forest road and walk up to a mile to the trailhead if visiting on a weekend. There are also two privies at the trailhead.

Although the trail is very flat up through Hyas Lake, we took our time munching on the many ripe berries along the sides of the trail. Hyas Lake made for an excellent Lunch Spot. From there, the climbing began as we steeply hiked up to the Deception Pass trail junction with the PCT. From there, following the sign for Marmot, Jade and Clarice Lakes, the trail descends about 700 ft into Hozbizz Basin. As you ascend out of the basin, you’ll eventually reach a fork – take the left fork signed for Marmot Lake. After about 900 ft of climbing out of the basin, you’ll reach Marmot Lake.

This wasn’t a surprise given that we went over the long weekend, but the lake was busy. Keeping in mind the Leave No Trace principles, it took a while, but we eventually found a campsite on a durable surface to protect the fragile alpine meadows. If you’re in a pinch to find flat ground and are willing to sacrifice privacy, there is a large clearing with lots of space for camping at Marmot Lake just past the vault toilet.

The next morning we set off on a day hike up to Jade and Pea Soup Lakes. Although Jade Lake is absolutely beautiful and the prospect of camping there was tempting, this whole section of trail is steep and requires almost constant scrambling and wayfinding so we were relieved to leave our packs and tents behind. I’d recommend downloading maps from Gaia or AllTrails. It is also worth noting that Jade has far fewer durable campsites than Marmot so it is a bit of a risk to count on camping up there.

Following the rough trail around Marmot Lake, you eventually reach the end of the lake and begin climbing steeply over boulders towards Jade. There were cairns to follow and generally enough other hikers that we never got lost. The trail continues relentlessly climbing until you reach the basin that No Name lake sits in. From there, you’ll get your first glimpses of the unmistakably distinct teal waters of Jade Lake. 

After descending into Jade Lake basin, we stopped for a snack and to enjoy the stunning view. Directly across the water, we saw Dip Top Gap, our final destination to see the beautifully peaceful Pea Soup Lake. After carefully hiking the rough trail around Jade Lake, we began our scramble up the boulders, following the stream down from the glacier. When we reached the snowfield, the snow was firm and textured enough that crossing (especially with a pair of microspikes and trekking poles) was not an issue. Don’t forget to turn around one in a while to take in the views of Jade and Marmot with mountains in the background!

Although steep and punishing, the trek was made instantly worthwhile when we got our first view of Pea Soup, right at the top of the snowfield. Framed by the snowy, jagged peaks of Mt. Daniel, the brilliantly blue and peaceful waters of Pea Soup Lake were breathtaking. Although the rest of the trail was heavily enjoyed by many hikers, we found solitude sitting in the boulder field above the lake for at least an hour. As we basked and ate our lunch, we enjoyed the show put on by some hardcore backcountry skiers earning their turns up on the glaciers of Mt Daniel.

After climbing down from Pea Soup back to Jade, we eased our tired legs with a chilly dip in Jade Lake before climbing back down to Marmot for the night and trekking out the following morning.

Some additional links I found helpful while researching this trail:
https://www.theoutbound.com/washington/backpacking/backpack-to-marmot-and-jade-lakes
https://www.theoutbound.com/washington/backpacking/hike-to-dip-top-gap
https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/diptop-gap
https://www.sarinaclark.com/trip-reports/jadelakeanddiptopgap

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