A short backpacking trip or a long dayhike, the Frying Pan Loop winds hikers through meadows, past lakes, and up to the summit of Frying Pan Mountain.
Start out on the Cowlitz trail, which meanders through the forest alongside Summit Creek for 2.2 miles, crossing Pony Creek and a branch of Summit Creek before reaching a junction.
At the fork, stay to the right to stick to the Cowlitz Trail for another 1.4 miles before arriving at a four way junction. To your left is the Crossover Trail and to the right the Cowlitz Trail continues east, but you'll stay straight to get onto the Pot Hole Trail and hike for one mile through flat bottomland to a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and turn left (north).
The well-traveled PCT will help you make short work of the next 1.6 miles as you hike north. If you're backpacking, a side trip to Twin Sisters Lakes is a nice overnight option. The junction for the lake is 0.5 miles from where you get on the PCT for this trail, and it's 1.4 miles to the lake, so a substantial side trip, but worth considering for a campsite.
Back on the PCT, you'll arrive at a junction with the Jug Lake trail, where the route takes off to your left. Turn onto the Jug Lake trail and hike for a half mile to another junction, this one with the Kincaid trail, which heads up and then over Fryingpan Mountain (5686 feet high).
Stay on this trail for 3.3 miles, climbing up and then descending along to a junction with the Judkin trail. At this junction, turn left onto the Judkin Trail and continue descending for 1 mile to a basin that holds Jug Lake. Hike another 0.6 miles to a junction with the Jug Lake trail and turn right onto the Jug Lake trail. It's one mile back to the Cowlitz trail, where you'll turn right and head back to the trailhead, 2.2 miles away.