Short and steep, the trail to Minotaur Lake ascends through hemlock forests into a sub-alpine region of heather and huckleberries before it reaches this emerald lake filling a cirque below Labyrinth Mountain. People who like to get their climbing done quickly will love this trail through the pine-needled duff because it doesn’t dillydally around. On a hot summer day this hike near the Cascade Crest is also appreciated because the route is shaded for two-thirds of the way, providing a nice escape from the heat. Furthermore, the lake provides a welcomed (though brisk) swim, if the heat has you sweating by the time you reach the shores of this mile-high destination.
Maps: USGS 7.5-Minute Series: Labyrinth Mountain, WA. View our topo map below. Note: Use ‘Print Preview’ before printing to scale the map to a full sheet of paper.
Activity: hiking and overnight backpacking
Nearest Town: Stevens Pass
Skill Level: 2+
Fitness Level: 2+
Distance: Four miles roundtrip to Minotaur Lake; 7 miles roundtrip to Labyrinth Mountain.
Elevation: Trailhead: 3,800 feet. Minotaur Lake: 5,550. Labyrinth Mountain: 6,376.
Recommended Season: summer and fall
- Lake Wenatchee Access. Drive 14.5 miles west on Highway 2 and take a right on Highway 207 at Cole’s Corner, following signage to Lake Wenatchee. About 4.4 miles later, cross the Wenatchee River and stay left on the main road as it bears left. In another 6 miles, pass the White River Road. Veer left, staying on the main arterial which becomes the Wenatchee River Road (or Forest Road 65). In another 6.1 miles, turn left on Road 6700 and cross the river. Drive 6.3 miles and turn right onto Road 6704 which leads to the parking spot for this trail in 0.75 miles. Park on the right and look for the trailhead on the left — the road narrows down and gets brushy if you go too far. There are no amenities at the trailhead or at the lake.
- Smithbrook Road Access. Drive to the Smithbrook road (4.7 miles east of Stevens Pass). If coming from the west, use the cut through the divided highway for the Smithbrook Road. Drive up Road 6700 (Smithbrook Road) for 4.1 miles to the highpoint of the road (Rainy Pass) and then down the far side of the pass for 0.8 miles to the intersection of Road 6700 and Road 6705. Bear left here, staying on Road 6700 (going straight puts you onto 6705) and drive 1.8 miles to another intersection with Road 6704. Turn left on to Road 6704 and continue 0.9 miles to the Minotaur Lake trailhead.
* The trail starts across the road from the parking pullout. It starts out steep, staying on a little riblet on the west side of the stream draining Minotaur Lake. The climbing remains steep for the first two-thirds of the trip, but as you leave the dense forest, the angle kicks back and provides a less strenuous completion to the hike.
* Once at the lake, if you immediately cross the stream at the lake’s outlet and follow one of the braided trails up some 60 vertical feet, you’ll get great views down on Theseus Lake some 600 vertical feet below. There is a scrambler’s trail leading down to Theseus, but this is steep and exposed — a slip could result in serious injury. This is not a trail for families or casual hikers.
* If you follow the riblet east of Minotaur Lake and dividing this lake from Theseus Lake, you can follow a well-established trail heading up towards Labyrinth Mountain (elevation 6,376 feet).
The trail is steep, narrow, and off-camber. Young children and the elderly will be challenged to safely walk this trail.
Issues. You will find a spider web of trails around the lake. The Forest Service is restoring the area and has decommissioned many of the needless spur trails and some of the unnecessary camping spots. Please respect the signage and stay off closed areas.
Uses Allowed. Hiking and overnight camping. If you’re a physical mutant, you could also run the trail.
Not Allowed. No whining, biking, horses or motorized use.
Land Designation: Forest Service. About half the trail is in the Henry Jackson Wilderness Area.
Fees/Permits: No parking pass is needed at the trailhead but a free hiking permit is required. You self-register for the hiker’s permit at a box found at the trailhead.
Additional Information. Click here to read the trip report prepared by the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce. Also check the ‘Trailsports Forum’ at WenatcheeOutdoorsForum.org for local updates.
Trip Reporters: Andy and Allison Dappen, Eric Anderson. First trip report entered 8/20/2009. Updated 8/12/2015.
Additional Information: For literary buffs interested in brushing off their Greek mythology, or for those who like to impress their fellow hikers with random trivia, here is the story behind the names of Minotaur Lake, Theseus Lake, and Labyrinth Mountain:
- To prove his favor with the gods, King Minos of Crete asked Poseidon to send him a white bull, which he would then use as a sacrifice. Poseidon sent Minos a beautiful white bull and Minos, deciding to keep the gift for himself, instead sacrificed a bull from his own herd. Poseidon was angry with the king and caused his wife, Pasiphaë, to fall in love with the bull. The product of Pasiphaë and the bull’s love affair was the Minotaur—half bull, half man.
- Ashamed of this monster, Minos commissioned the architect Daedalus to built him a cage in which to hide the product of his wife’s affair. Daedalus designed the labyrinth and hid the Minotaur at the center.
- Later, Minos’ son, Androgeus, was killed by the Athenians—an event which led to war between the two nations. Minos won the battle with the help of Zeus and demanded that, every ninth year, the Athenians send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete to satisfy the hunger of the Minotaur. When the time came for the third sacrifice, Theseus (the son of Aegeus, King of Athens) offered to go as one of the number and slay the Minotaur.
- When Theseus landed in Crete, Minos’ daughter, Ariadne, fell instantly in love with him. Before he entered the labyrinth, she gave him a role of string so that he could trace his way back out. Theseus managed to kill the monster and lead the other Athenians to freedom.
- On his journey home, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on an island, where she later became the wife of the god Dionysus. He continued back to Athens, but forgot to change the black sails of mourning for the white sails of victory. King Aegeus, who had been keeping watch for the ship, saw the black sails and, believing his son to be dead, threw himself into the sea which now bears his name.
Photo Right: Looking down on Theseus Lake
Leave It Better Than You Found It. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or may not know all the issues affecting a route.You are still completely responsible for your decisions, your actions, and your safety. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.