The Scottish Lakes are gorgeous backpacking (or long-day hiking) destinations just east of Stevens Pass in the Cascades. Hikers can start from a trailhead just off Highway 2, or make reservations at Alpine Lakes High Camp and set out for the lakes from the front door of your cabin. Either way, they're a gorgeous destination, and well worth the effort to get there.
From Highway 2
It’s a steep climb from the Highway 2 trailhead. Ascend 1,400 feet in just over a mile via a series of switchbacks. Keep going. Gain another 1,200 feet in the next 1.5 miles, crossing several logging roads and clearcuts, which offer excellent views of Glacier Peak as you ascend.
Top out at 5,700 feet before cresting a ridge and dropping slightly to Gill Creek. Here, the trail levels out in an old-growth grove, intersecting with a now-defunct trail. Ignore that old trail and take a sharp right to enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. You’ll soon reach another intersection, this time with the Upper Roaring Creek Trail.
From here, Lake Ethel, a pretty lake surrounded by steep rocks and waterfalls, lies less than a quarter-mile straight ahead. Pause there, or simply continue on Upper Roaring Creek Trail for 2.7 miles to Lake Julius, another lovely rest stop.
From here, your destination lies just a half-mile away, where you can sit and rest on Loch Eileen’s shores.
From Alpine Lakes High Camp
If you stay at Alpine Lakes High Camp, you’ll start at 5,000 feet, shortening your hike to 8.4 miles roundtrip and saving you 3,000 feet of elevation gain.
Several well-maintained trails connect you to Loch Eileen, including MAC Express, Low Road and the Boundary Trail. All of these access Picnic Point, where there’s a sign pointing to the trail leading right to Lake Julius and Loch Eileen.
However you get here, it’s worth spending the night or a long weekend to explore all the area has to offer.