The reward on this 7.1-mile out-and-back is a sprawling backcountry lake surrounded by craggy Cascade peaks. From the roadside parking pullout, cross FR 7601 to pick up the trail in Eightmile Creek drainage. The trail climbs open pine slopes ripe with wildflowers and grand views of Colchuck and Dragontail peaks. After 0.6 mile, the climb eases as it merges onto old roadbed—traveling past colorful hummingbirds, wildflowers, and butterflies—then crosses a footbridge over Pioneer Creek.
Less than half a mile later, bear left and leave the roadbed, heading southwest into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Hike past towering, old-growth cedars and trace the banks of Eightmile Creek en route to the northern tip of Little Eightmile Lake. From here, turn right at the 3-way junction onto Trail 1554 and eat lunch at a viewpoint overlooking Eightmile Lake. Return to the 3-way junction and turn right for the remaining 0.6-mile stretch to Eightmile Lake. Relax along the banks of this giant pool before starting the return trip back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography