My 3rd time hiking this trail. Love the old homestead, the views and the lake. However, hate the rattlesnakes!! Last time a dog with us got bitten by a snake, this time, we saw two snakes on the trail. Part of the trail before the homestead is flooded, people made a trail in the brush. This is where we saw the first snake. Be careful if you hiking in this area. After this time, we won't go back.
This is my favorite hike so far this year. The trail is well marked and is easy to hike for the most part. The scenery is gorgeous and you may even see some wildlife. The trout lake at the turnaround is amazing. There are trout jumping all over the place. It is a perfect place for a swim and lunch. I would highly recommend this trail to everybody except small children.
My son and I did this trail as our first of the season hike. Neither of us had been here before and it was truly beautiful. The first part (up to the Northrup Homestead site) is quite easy and a great warm-up for the rest of the hike. From the homestead to the lake is quite a bit harder, but very do-able and interesting. We hiked through narrow places between rocks, and wide open meadows with wonderful views of the canyon walls. The trail ends at a small lake that was jumping with fish. We watched them as we enjoyed our lunch before heading back. The trail condition was great, although very small children might have more difficulty than my experienced 8-yr old did. (There were several steep climbs with loose rock.) We spent about 6 hours exploring the canyon and did not see one other person the whole time! Trail is well-marked and easy to follow. Be aware of rattlesnakes--we saw three! Bring lots of water as there isn't much available on the trail. Reasonable camping is available at Jones Bay Campground on Hwy 155. It is much cheaper than Steamboat Rock State Park and less crowded. (We were the only ones camped there for most of the two-night stay.) If you go soon, you may have a great find--we lost our GPS somewhere along the trail! :-(
My rating is definitely biased in the big scheme of things. This place has great sentimental value to me though for several reasons not worth mentioning here. I've hiked here, biked here and climbed here. One of the best, most fun climbs of my time living in WA (98 - 05). I stood in one spot one day and saw 25 bald eagles in the trees and on the rocks above me. I really miss WA.
The trail is well marked and first marks the Northrup family homestead. The Northrups were a pioneer family in the area. I first followed the old wagon trail up to the top of the basalt table which was very rocky in places and not suitable for small children for safety reasons. The top allows views of Steamboat State Park and Banks Lake. I even saw a mother Black bear and two cubs across one of the canyons. I returned to the trail head and followed the homestead tail to the main homestead and up to a small clear lake. I was the only one there. It was so peaceful and serene. I ate my lunch, rested, then returned to the trail head. The total trip in miles was about 10 miles in and out. I've been told fishermen hike in for the trout. Hiking is the only way in. The trail covers meadows, large boulders and rocky ground. This part of the trail would be suitable for families with children.