Lily Basin Trail is a 22.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Randle, Washington that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from June until October.
Great Ridgeline trail with views to the north of Packwood Lake with Rainier in the background at about mile 4.5 from the trailhead. Agree with most recent post re: great road 48 a few ruts& potholes. Do stop at the first trailhead sign"Lily Basin Trail No. 86 to your right---- past that, the road is very treacherous.
I hiked Lily Basin Trail #86 yesterday, 7-30-16 as a day hike headed for Heart Lake. I got a late start and was on the trail at 11am and wasn’t sure I could make it there and back in time.
FR48 was the most well prepared road I’ve seen. Well graded and fast travel. Potholes started after mile 9 and even then it wasn’t bad. The washout that was reported in previous years reviews has been repaired and can accommodate low clearance vehicles. “Logging Operations” are posted from mile 1 to mile 9, but actual work is being done between mile 7-9 (I’m sure the reason for the well maintained road). Logging was stopped yesterday with machinery was on the sides of the road. If logging was started, I’m sure there would be logging trucks on the road, but all quite yesterday.
There were almost 6-7 cars at the trailhead with room to spare. Cars parked on the side of the road. A group of 4 pulled in as I was walking to the trailhead. As with the whole trail, it started off at a gradual incline with first real views around mile 4 where Packwood lake can be viewed below Mt. Rainier. Beautiful. This section can be fast and soon you get your first views of Johnson Peak as you near the top and trees start thinning out.
As you start rounding the corner, water becomes plentiful for this section as small glacial melt streams appear. About 6-7 in all. They are easy to cross with the exception of one, the largest. Last year I went the end of June and snow made it easier to cross. Today I almost turned around. There’s about a 10-15ft drop. Climbing down the rocks to the water is easy, however getting back up to the other side proves more difficult with only loose gravel (on flat-ish rocks), weak foot holds and steep, loose, slippery dirt to navigate. I spent a good 20 minutes deciding on a route that I felt comfortable with. My slight fear of heights didn’t help matters and was the main reason for a possible turn-around. I decided to take my pack off, and crab crawl backwards up the rocky slippery side with solid hand holds. I came back the same way, took my back off and it slid/tumbled down landing in the water and surprisingly didn’t get to soaked.
Aside from that…the rest of the hike was textbook beautiful. I stopped for a bit at the junction of Angry Mountain Trail, marked by a post with two aging wood signs. Decided I didn’t have time to make it Heart Lake and back to the car in a reasonable amount to time and spend almost an hour sitting on the peak eating lunch and enjoying the beautiful 3 mountain views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mount St. Helens and Hawkeye Point that is barely seen from my vantage point. Wildflowers were out and some just dying, while others not quite fully displayed. I saw 2 people hiking down from on the trip up and I saw the group of 4 + plus dog on the slope of Johnson Peak just after I headed back. I glad I did. They found the solar-charger I dropped awhile back. Thanks to them for their honesty! I also saw a couple trying to find a place to camp, but getting late in the day it didn’t look so good. I hope they found something acceptable.
The hike took me 3hr 45min on the way in and 3 hrs on the return. Of course much faster going down. This was a great hike and one which I’ll do again and most every year.
This was a solo day hike of Lily Basin Trail 86A from the stock trail head to Heart Lake for an out/back of 15 miles that took 8hr 50 minutes with a round trip elevation gain of approximately 4000ft.
The road to Lily Basin Trial can be accessed from FR 48 across from the Crest Trail Lodge in Packwood. As roads go it’s pretty straight forward. Two things to look out for. First is a washed out area that may require high clearance vehicles. I had a 4 wheel drive, so no problem. Then about ¾ of the way in there’s a “Y” in the road. Keep left.
For Lily Basin Trail 86A, there are two trailheads. The Lily Basin 86A trail head and the stock trailhead. The Lily Basin 86A trailhead is unmarked. There’s a no signage that I could see indicating the trail name or number. Parking there is limited as the road is narrow. Parking pullouts extend on the road for a bit. The Stock trailhead is about a ½ mile further down the road and there is signage. Parking is available at the Stock trailhead to account for the horse trailers.
Not reading the signs, I parked at the Stock trailhead. Starting out is a decent into a nice forested area. Soon you will be in the Goat Rocks wilderness. The trail is fairly level with a gradual assent. I found myself cursing on this part and covered 3 miles in just over an hour. There were few viewpoints. After that, the viewpoints are almost non-stop and climbs are a bit steeper, but still not bad.
At this point you near the west face of Johnson Peak and traverse the Lily Basin Cirque at the headwaters of Glacier Creek. This area has many glacial run-offs, one of which created a large washed out area of the trail that requires careful crossing. Cross either hard pack snow or climb down a 10-15 water fall and back up the other side. I chose the more straight forward but slippery snow. Even my poles had a hard time digging into the snow. On the way back, it was much softer in places. After this you’ll cross a section of slate and traverse up to the junction of Angry Mountain Trail # 90 and the 3 mountain view of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mount St. Helens as well as Hawkeye Point. This junction is on Angry Mountain Ridge and the only way you can go is down or along the ridge.
If continuing on Lily Basin Trail, head down and left otherwise turn right and follow Angry Mountain Trail. I went left toward Heart Lake. This is a fairly steep decent for .4 miles until you get to the junction of Heart Lake which is marked by a blowdown. Hang a right and follow the gentle decent to Heart Lake. The Lily Basin Trail traverses a cirque around Heart Lake on its way to Jordan Basin and the Goat Lake area. As long as there was a gentle breeze, Heart Lake wasn’t too buggy. It’s still early in the year. Not sure how it will be next month. Parts of the grassy area were marshy, however the area is beautiful and cool to see hikers on the trail walking round the lake.
Heart Lake was my turn around point. The assent from the junction of Heart Lake to the Junction of Angry Mountain Trail #90 was the toughest of this hike. After that point, it’s pretty much down hill back to the trailhead. I didn’t realize how much I climbed on the way in until I went back. It’s as gradual coming down as it was going up but it seemed like it went forever. I needed to take the stock trail back to the trailhead but missed the junction somehow. It’s not very discernable and after looking at the map found out it’s around the entrance to Goat Rocks Wilderness Area. I ended up hiking to the main trailhead and road walked about ½ back to the car. All and all, not a back hike.
I’ve always wanted to do this hike and knew nothing about it. It’s well worth it. In 5 miles you can see beautiful vistas and maybe even some mountain goats like I did. I will do this hike again but next time as an overnighter or multi-day hike to Goat Lake and head north or south on the PCT. A great entrance to the Goat Rocks.
Just finished. Trail is washed out at waterfall. Passable but difficult.
Lots of flies at camp spots!
I haven't done this trail all the way yet. We went on to Goat lake. I got a great view of this trail looking down from the ridge by "Hawk eye". This is a great alternative way to get to the snow grass flats trail.