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Trail Report: This hike starts off with a long approach so it's best done as an overnight backpack. The spectacular views you are treated to make the extra effort more than worth it.
Started at the Pete Lake Trailhead mid-morning, the first 5 miles of this trail are fairly flat, running alongside Cooper River until just past Pete Lake. The trail curves left after Pete Lake and in about another 2 miles you come to Leman Creek. Bring along a pair of flip-flops and trekking poles for balance at minimum, given the depth and width of the stream a water crossing was necessary. Once past the Leman crossing the trail slowly begins to rise out of the forested riverbed and into an old burn slope. Around mile 9 the switchbacks begin, the trail climbing steeply up to Spectacle Lake. From the initial vantage point over the lake it's about 3/4 mile to the campsites on the peninsula. Set camp and bedded down for the evening, didn't bother to install the rain fly on the tent - later in the evening the stars were positively epic.
Woke up early and made the push up to Spectacle Lake Lookout which took just over an hour. What an incredible view. Had an early lunch enjoying the overlook and then headed back down and broke camp. The hike out seemed to go on forever, the initial switchback drop from the Lake is beautiful but then you're down along the river, beneath the forest canopy and in the presence of pretty much every mosquito in the PNW.
Bugs were awful. Bring a mosquito net for your head, and make sure to cover as much exposed skin as possible. Water sources were plentiful over the length of the approach, so bring filtration and/or treatment and you should be good to go.
Kudos to the PCT working party that was out clearing the major blowdowns from the past season. It was obvious that a lot of work was put into clearing the trail just below the switchbacks. Thank you!
Drive to the trailhead was a breeze, any vehicle should do.
~25 miles out-and-back, ~3,500 ft of climb.
Here's some additional background on Spectacle Lake.