Note: The term “squaw” is considered a derogatory and offensive slur by North American indigenous groups. WTA supports the ongoing efforts to rename the many geographical places that bear this name.
The short trail up to Squaw Lake begins at the sign for Cathedral Trail No.1345. The lake is not listed on the trail sign, but you won’t miss it on the way up. Spy Cathedral Rock jutting forth from the ridgeline to the northwest. Follow the trail through the rich Tucquala Meadow, which quickly gives way to thick forest. Cross the bridge over Cle Elum River, and continue up and through the trees, noticing some of the old growth behemoths that watch over the valley.
In late summer, huckleberries and salmonberries line the trail, although the ones higher up the ridge will take more time to ripen. At 0.5 mile, cross into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Once within the wilderness, the long switchbacks gradually bring you up the hillside, offering peeking views of the green valley below and the rusty mountain peaks to the east.
At 2 miles, reach a signed junction with Trail Creek Trail 1332 and continue straight. The trail becomes rockier and steeper after the junction, but you’re almost to the lake. Just before the lake, notice a toilet sign nailed to a tree on your left; there is a composting toilet just down the way.
Continue straight to arrive at the glittering, quiet lake. There are several trails snaking around the lake to various campsites, any of which make a great picnic or overnight spot. There is a designated horse camp located on the lake’s north side. The water can be surprisingly warm and clear, and you’re sure to spot frogs and other creatures nearby. Return the way you came, or extend your trip by continuing up to Cathedral Pass.