Ingalls Way Trail #1390

The Ingalls Way Trail begins at Esmeralda Trail #1394 and ends at Ingalls Creek Trail #1215 within Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

From its junction with trail 1394, this trail heads uphill through forest for about 1 mile until it switchbacks up through open meadow and scattered trees to a junction with Longs Pass Trail 1229. Past this junction, the trail crosses a small basin and begins climbing steeply towards the ridgetop through an area of rock, scattered small trees, and patchy meadows. Views of the surrounding country get better as the trail heads up. From the ridgetop there are excellent views of surrounding peaks, including Mount Stuart. The trail then crosses the ridge at the wilderness boundary and enters the Wenatchee River Ranger District. At this point an upper trail traverses Headlight Basin as the most direct route towards Ingalls Lake, whereas the lower trail, which has more campsites, is less direct but rejoins the upper trail before the lake. Near the lake, the trail heads steeply uphill through rocks, over a rocky ridge and ends at the lake. A scramble around the west side of the lake will rejoin a trail that traverses to Stuart Pass which is the termini of the Ingalls Creek and Jack Creek trails.

Dogs are prohibited on Ingalls Way Trail and in Headlight Basin. Dogs, and all pets, are prohibited except for Service Dogs as defined by Department of Justice regulations 28 C.F.R. Part 35.136. Dogs whose sole purpose is to provide therapy, comfort, emotional support or crime deterrent do not qualify as service dogs. 

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Early June - late October
Fees: $5/vehicle/day or Northwest Forest Pass, or Federal Interagency Recreation Pass required at trailhead. Discover Pass not valid on National Forest lands.
Permit Info: Wilderness permits are required. The self-issuing permits are free and available at trailhead. 
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Hiker only. Wilderness regulations apply. See: Alpine Lakes Wilderness Regulations BookletNo dogs allowed. Camping is prohibited within 0.5 mile of Ingalls Lake. Use the designated sites in Headlight Basin. Do not camp on fragile vegetation such as meadows. Campfires are prohibited. Water is scarce along this trail.
Closest Towns: Cle Elum

General Information


From  Cle Elum, WA  follow Highway 970 approximately 8.5 miles and turn left on Teanaway Road. Continue 13 miles to the end of the pavement and veer right onto Forest Road 9737 and follow for about 10 miles to the Esmeralda Trailhead.


Parking for approixmately 40 vehicles. There is no trailer turn around once the parking area fills. 

This parking area is heavily used and is often full by 9AM. Have a plan B.

Do not park in a manner that blocks other vehicles in. 


Day Hiking

Difficulty Level: Easy


Difficulty Level: Easy