The Chain Lakes Trail is embedded within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. In order to access this trail you must first hike in along one or more other trails. To approach from the North, take the Pacific Crest Trail heading south from Steven’s Pass to the Icicle Creek Trail to the start of the Chain Lakes Trail (8.2 miles). From the South, take the Icicle Creek Trail heading north from the end of Icicle Creek Road to the start of the Chain Lakes Trail (9.1 miles).
Once on the Chain Lakes Trail, climb steadily up a forested slope for about two miles. At this point the trees recede as the trail levels out and arrives at lower Chain Lake. There are camp sites here as well as at middle Chain Lake, which the trail passes next. A privy is also available at the middle lake. The trail does not go by the upper Chain Lake.
The trail continues on to a pass. This is another steep section which gets you up and over the ridge between Chain Lakes and Doelle Lakes. Drop down into this next valley to explore two more of the aquamarine gems that give this wilderness its name. The trail winds by both of the Doelle Lakes and then comes to its official end.
Too long for a casual day out, this hike is a good option for a multiday trip. From the last Doelle Lake onward the trail is classified as “unmaintained.” It does continue on, however, all the way to Frosty Pass where it connects with several other maintained trails in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.