Best Base Camps
Yes, many of Washington's best-known wildernesses and national parks are so popular that you're lucky to find space for your feet on the trails, let alone space for your tent at a lake. But you don't have to follow the crowds to find great camping close to a trailhead. Just north of Steven's Pass on Highway 2, Lake Janus offers perfect camping without the presence of a backcountry tent metropolis.
You have two ways to get there. There's a nine-mile option, starting on the Pacific Crest Trail at Steven's Pass, or a three-mile option, which uses a short side trail (number 1590) to link Forest Service Road 6700 (off Highway 2) to the PCT. Note that the lake, while not as crowded as Washington's more famous parks, is no secret to locals. No worries: there's plenty of good camping within a couple of miles both north and south of the lake.
Budget a full day for a hike out and back to Grizzly Peak, which offers spectacular views of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The five-mile hike (ten miles round-trip) climbs north on excellent footways with long, open views of the Cascade Mountains and beyond. Look for plenty of huckleberries in late summer, when the ground cover turns a brilliant dramatic red. August is the best month for both weather and mosquitoes.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication