We hiked on a warm September afternoon and couldn't have asked for better. Subalpine meadows and forests for the first 2.5 miles after Section 3 Lake, then an 800ft thigh-burner for the last mile up to the summit of Bear Creek Mountain. Great views east all the way up, and wonderful views of Adams, Goat Rocks and Rainier at the top.
I imagine in late Spring, this area would be mind-blowing with a little more snow on the ridges and wildflowers in the meadows. We look forward to returning in June/July next year.
The road to the trailhead is a little rough, but easily doable for anything besides a sports car. 4wd would only be necessary in snowy or very muddy conditions.
This trail wasn't what I remember it being 5 or 10 years ago. Over growth along the trail has become a small problem. My friend and I did this trail with our kids on our back, so the tree limbs sticking so far out was scary for a six month old. Lol but we had fun. Beautiful canyon walls all along the trail.
8-1-15, Clear Lost Trail:
This is a great hike and can be difficult at times, however…it’s a bit hard to find and not easily seen from Hwy 12. I did a solo, day hike from the Clear Lost Trail #76 trailhead to the “Old Lookout Site” at the junction of Bluff Lake Trail #65, for a 16.3 mile out and back that took 11 hours counting stops with a 4347 foot elevation gain RT.
The road to Clear Lost Trail TH is excellent. It’s off Hwy 12 however, there are no road signs and is easily driven by as it looks like one of the many pullouts on Hwy 12. Plus the trail itself isn’t easily seen from the road and the registration box is 75ft down the trail. Here’s how to tell: The pullout is on a corner. The pullout guardrail stops near the trail entrance. The guardrail restarts on the corner and is marked with 3 yellow/black diagonal striped signs. One sign on the beginning of the guardrail and two signs on a pole above the guardrail. The trail/registration box is to the right of the 3 signs and below the road. While this is a pullout, there can be limited parking.
From the get to, you go down loosing approximately 900ft the first mile. At the bottom there’s an area to camp next to the Clear Fork Creek. There is no bridge and will need to be forded. The creek is very low but expect to get your feet wet.
From there it’s UP until the Old Lookout Site. After 2.5 miles is the four-way junction of Clear Fork Trail #61 and Clear lost Trail #76, the site of Dewey’s Cabin. An old fallen cabin. This junction is clearly marked on a downed log. I missed it because I was looking up for signage not down. That said, if you have a map, it’s quite obvious your direction.
After is a gentle climb that gets steeper as you go and levels out for a bit at the junction of Coyote Lake 2.5 miles later. There was no signage that I could see but if you have a map, still clear as its direction. This is where you get your first views of Mt. Rainier and other peaks. About a mile later is a small lake in an alpine meadow below beautiful cliffs. This is the only source of water since Clear Fork Creek 5 miles ago. Climb another 1/2 mile to Lost Hat Lake. This lake is at the bottom of a cirque and only half its original size. Not sure if that’s normal or this year’s low snow level. There were a lot of animal tracks at the lakes edge. A popular watering hole I guess and the reason I opted to get water elsewhere.
Next climb about 800ft in .9 miles to the Old Lookout Site at the junction of Bluff Lake Trail #65 at 6200ft elevation. This was a tough section for me. Steep and very hot and was running out of water with little shade at the top. From Lost Hat Lake on is all alpine and the trees become scarce but there was a nice breeze at times that was welcomed! The lookout is on a peak that’s thin and long. From the top you can see Coyote Lake below. Beautiful. There is the three mountain view of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and Mount St. Helens and in the distance, White Pass Ski lifts.
The return trip went much faster but that’s to be expected since its all downhill, but even the last climb to the car wasn’t that bad. All and all, this was a great hike. Wonderful views once you entered the alpine area near Lost Hat Lake and if you’re multiday hiking, there is camping at Lost Hat and Coyote Lakes. I’d rate this hike as moderately difficult due to its elevation gain.
This is a favorite of ours. Yes a little difficult to get to trailhead , 4wd is best to have. Perfect amount of flat and elevation gain. Best part of work out is last 800ft or so, straight up but what a reward at the end! It's rated Easy, be careful though, it's not a "stroll in the park".
This hike is a little more difficult to get to. You have to drive up pretty rough gravel roads. At the beginning of the hike the meadows and wildflowers are beautiful. Towards the end, it gets pretty steep with loose dirt paths. The views are amazing towards the end!
I hiked this trail as a loop consisting of 3 different trails. Nannie Ridge Trail 98, PCT 2000, and Walupt Lake Trail 101. It's a 15 mile loop with excellent vistas once on Nannie Ridge and the PCT and views of Mt. Adams and The Goat Rocks.
The trailhead starts at Walupt Lake Campground. Weekends tend to get busy with campers and parking is at a premium, however there is overflow parking just for people using the trails. Park before the Walupt Lake Campground on one of 2 or 3 designated (with yellow printed signs) areas for hikers.
Access the trail by walking through the campground to the end of road. The loop can be done in either direction and I choose clockwise, taking Nannie Ridge Trail 98 first. After Sheep Lake, it's all downhill which I preferred. Take Walupt Lake Trail 101 for 70 yrds and register at the TH. A NW Forest Pass is required. You'll see the Nannie Ridge/Walupt Lake junction shortly after this, head left for Nannie Ridge. The trail climbs steeply for the first 2.5 miles or so and I saw only 3 people till Sheep Lake. Once it starts to open up, look for the Nannie Peak trail. It's unmarked but you'll know it when you see it. Turn left. The hike to the peak is beautiful with meadows opening up the forest. On top, Mt. Adams is in your face and Mount St. Helens can be seen in the distance. Nannie Peak is about 1/3 mile long. Before you go down, hike to the other end of the peak. You'll be greeted with views of Gilbert Peak and the Goat Rocks which you'll see until you reach Sheep Lake.
Return to Nannie Ridge Trail 98. Now the ridge trail takes you in a northerly direction along the contour of the ridge for 2.2 miles with many wonderful vista and meadows. A mile or so after the peak you'll reach a small picturesque lake. From this point on there are many more meadows and vistas. Nearing Sheep lake wildflowers appear. If you're in season, they are stunning. And did I mention the meadows and Vistas? Beautiful.
Once I arrived at Sheep Lake, I started seeing people, about 7-8. This is a popular place to overnight if you're Thru-Hiking the PCT or doing a multi-day hike. Walk around the lake to pick your campsite. The lake is clear and surprisingly warm. Just right for a swim.
Upon leaving I ran into a field of wildflowers and in no time reached the PCT junction. The next .8 miles of the PCT is Beautiful! If going clockwise, be sure to turn around and look for views of Mt. Adams. This section follows along the contour of the ridge and is mostly a huge meadow. Look across to the upcoming ridge for views of the PCT you'll be hiking. When you cross a small creek, you're at the junction of the two ridges and now traveling in a southerly direction toward Walupt Lake trail 101. The map shows camping here, but I don't remember seeing anything that stood out.
Heading south on the PCT, again you're hiking on the contour of the ridge oppsite, east of Nannie Ridge. This section climbs a bit, levels out a bit, then descends toward Walupt Lake trail 101. The huckleberries were out in force along this section. A nice surprise once I took my eyes off the views of Mt. Adams and Walupt Lake. I ran into more people here than anywhere on the hike. Some Thru-Hiking the PCT or sections of it, others on mulit-day and day hikes. Once you reach the Walupt Lake trail 101, it’s 4.7 miles to the TH. Turn right and enjoy a nice level stroll for a bit, then descend some and enjoy the final level 1.6 miles to the TH.
This loop has alot of views, meadows and is worth the effort. If doing the loop in one day, plan on 9 hrs of unrushed beauty.
Nice out and back hike. Most of the elevation gain is in the first two miles, then it levels out for the rest of the way to the PCT. Did in the middle of august and there was a very small amount of snow...I'm sure earlier in the year the snow can be a bit of a challenge.
There was nobody on the trail while we were on it (granted it is the middle of the week). We saw a tent near the PCT, but the owner was absent. With about 1 1/2 miles to go, we saw the first person the entire hike.
You can read a much longer review with pictures up on my blog:
Bram L. on Bear Creek Mountain
An absolute favorite. The meadows are beautiful with minimal elevation gain until well into the hike. If you like exposure, this is the hike to take. Views at the top are stunning with both Mt Rainier and Adams in view. Buggy at the top but turned out to be lady bugs with a few flies et al.