Copper Lake & Lake Malachite, West Fork Foss Trailhead, Seattle - Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass - Central Cascades, Washington

Copper Lake & Lake Malachite - 10.2 miles

West Fork Foss Trailhead

Copper Lake

Copper Lake

Round-Trip Length: 10.2 miles
Start-End Elevation: 1,500' – 3,780' (3,780' max elevation at Copper Lake)
Elevation Change: +2,280’ net elevation gain (+2,482’ total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Copper Lake & Lake Malachite - 10.2 Miles Round-Trip

The West Fork Foss River Trail reaches deep into the highest concentration of lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness between Highway 2 and I-90. Lake Malachite and Copper Lake lie in close proximity off the main trail artery, 4.95 miles and 5.1 miles from the trailhead (respectively).

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The lakes are ideal destinations for day hikers, with great camping options at each for staging longer trips through this highlight-rich valley:

The trail enters the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and joins the West Fork Foss at .4 miles. Views open to Shoestring Falls and the rocky ridge of Malachite Peak as it winds past debris from a 2006 flood to a new footbridge over the river (.98 miles : 1,675’).

Once over the trail rises gently among towering hemlock and cedar to Trout Lake (1.85 miles : 1,920’). The day use area here includes a natural swimming beach, established campsites and privy.

The trail arcs west past Trout Lake along Copper Creek to Upper Copper Falls (2.4 miles: 2,264’), then begins a 2 mile climb on switchbacks toward the bench holding Malachite and Copper Lakes. It gains 1500' between Trout and Copper Lake on this long, methodical climb.

The trail switchbacks along the creek through open areas of fireweed and vine maple to Malachite Falls at the headwall below Malachite and Copper lakes. It crosses under some granite crags and fords a stream at 4.0 miles (3,305’).

Travel moderates after crossing a creek at 4.2 miles and passes through yellow cedar and mountain hemlock to the Lake Malachite junction (4.75 miles : 3.751’). A short, steep spur breaks .2 miles west to Lake Malachite (3,990’).

The main trail keeps straight across an outlet creek on flat stones to the north end of Copper Lake (5.1 miles: 3.780’). The trail continues 2.9 miles to Big Heart Lake at the head of the valley.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N47 38.087 W121 18.234 — 0.0 miles: West Fork Trailhead - 1,500'
  • N47 37.857 W121 18.529 — 0.4 miles: Trail joins West Fork Foss
  • N47 37.613 W121 18.665 — 0.8 miles: Trail winds past washout debris
  • N47 37.576 W121 18.790 — 1.0 miles: Bridge over West Fork
  • N47 37.567 W121 18.864 — 1.1 miles: Enter Old Growth grove
  • N47 37.340 W121 18.884 — 1.5 miles: Trail continues gentle ascent
  • N47 37.118 W121 18.850 — 1.85 miles: Trout Lake - 1,920'
  • N47 36.745 W121 19.055 — 2.4 miles: Upper Copper Falls - begin steep ascent - 2,264'
  • N47 36.740 W121 19.277 — 3.0 miles: Steep ascent via switchbacks
  • N47 36.812 W121 19.464 — 3.5 miles: Steep ascent continues via switchbacks
  • N47 36.849 W121 19.745 — 4.0 miles: Ford small stream - 3,305'
  • N47 36.645 W121 19.919 — 4.5 miles: Ascent ends - trail levels out
  • N47 36.630 W121 19.983 — 4.75 miles: Spur to Malachite Lake
  • N47 36.456 W121 19.752 — 5.1 miles: Copper Lake - 3,780'

Worth Noting

  • Trout Lake is an ideal day or overnight destination for anglers, groups and families.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • An overnight Wilderness Permit must be filled out at the TH and carried to camp at Copper or Big Heart Lakes. Max group size is 12.

  • Campfires are prohibited at all lakes accessed by West Fork Foss Trail.

  • Camp only at established campsites within 1/2-mile of the following locations: Big Heart Lake, Copper Lake, Lake Dorothy, Little Heart Lake, Malachite Lake, Surprise Lake and Trout Lake.

  • Pack out all garbage. Practice Leave No Trace Ethics.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is allowed with a valid WA state fishing license.

  • Contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for more information.

Email: [email protected]
Sport | Commercial Licenses: 360.902.2434
Disability Licenses: 360.902.2460

Rules and Regulations

  • A Northwest Forest Pass or $5 fee is required at this trailhead.
  • A free day use or overnight Wilderness Permit must be filled out at the TH and carried for the duration of your trip in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
  • Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
  • Horses are not permitted on this trail.

Directions to Trailhead

The West Fork Trailhead is located 6.6 miles from the Foss River Road turnoff on Highway 2 east of the town of Skykomish.

From Highway 2 (Stevens Pass Highway), turn south on Foss River Road, 1.9 miles east of Skykomish. Continue straight on 68 where the pavement ends at 1.2 miles. At a Y-junction at 3.5 miles stay right, passing another trailhead parking lot at 4.2 miles. Just before a bridge, at 4.7 miles, turn left on 6835 (sign is easy to miss) and continue 1.9 miles to West Fork parking lot and trailhead.

The parking lot holds 30 cars and has bathrooms. 

Contact Information

Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest | Skykomish Ranger District
74920 NE Stevens Pass Hwy | PO Box 305
Skykomish, WA 98288

Reference Trail #1064

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Well marked trail, but more difficult than we'd imagined, most likely due to it being yet another hot summer day (92 in the sun, 84 in the shade; yes, I had a thermometer w/ me!). Very rocky and narrow path. Lots of wildflowers surrounded us and many butterflies encouraged us on our trek. The last .2 mile to Malachite was esp difficult for us (we are 50 and 56 yo) but the 2 hours spent swimming, reading and lounging at this absolutely gorgeous lake made the effort worth it. And, no one else was there. In summary: a great/hard work out and a stunning, truly magnificent lake as a reward for your efforts."
Laura  -  burien, wa  -  Date Posted: July 10, 2015


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