Explore There and Back Again - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Hiked this trail mid day Saturday and for the 4 hours it took me to finish I didn’t see one other hiker. Definitely a plus and the waterfall is beautiful

Did the old trail up and new trail down on Friday 12/07. This past week the weather was amazing so the hike was great. Started hitting light snow about 3,400 feet which increased with elevation.
Was all packed down though some parts were a little icy. I went without spikes or poles which would have been nice but not a necessity yet. The old trail up was definitely a challenge. I made it to the mailbox in 1:50 so I was hauling. The way down on the new trail took about 2:25 as I was taking my time but could definitely be done faster. Very rewarding hike!!

backpacking
2 days ago

Incredible 4 mountaIn views: Mt Adams, Mt Rainier, Mt St. Helen's and Mt Hood. Take gaitors!

hiking
10 days ago

Can't get any better than this lake! Gravel road for a few miles before getting to the parking lot. Be prepared for a bumpy road. Come very early coz parking lot gets really full. We got there by 730am and lot was almost full.

Very challenging hike. There's other more beautiful hikes in the area, but the workout is worth it for this one.

Night time hiking trying to break mountaineering boots in. Not a good idea I advise everyone not to try but I did it anyways. This is not my only time going up to check the mail. For as close as a fun hike it is it’s wonderful for conditioning! Old trail up and down this time. The new trail down is about the same time as the old if you do some ruining.

Gorgeous hike with so many waterfalls! It’s busy because of the beauty and ideal for most hiking skills. Get there early and don’t complain about others wanting to enjoy this spectacular hike. Watch for slippery rocks. But enjoy God’s country!

Great views of the falls but I did not do the entire trail because it was closed. This was one of 3 waterfalls I was visiting so I was not too disappointed that it wasn’t much of a “hike”. I was treated with gorgeous views of a rainbow over the waterfall. I assume on any sunny day this occurs. As others have mentioned it is difficult to find. You will park at a gravel parking lot right off the road on the right and then you will need to cross the road by foot to find the trail head right off the edge of the road.

Here is a video from my day where I visited panther creek falls, lower creek falls, and spirit falls - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KasE9uJGAOA&t=630s

Travelers info:

Forest Pass: YES
Parking fee: no but forest Pass needed
Driving: about 2 hours from Portland, potholes on the road up to panther.

This one has been on my list and we couldn’t have had a more beautiful day for it (11/18/18). Hiked the new trail up and back down, I don’t think my knees could have taken the old trail from what I hear. Pretty brutal last 1/2 mike until you reach the Peak but no question, worth it all! Gorgeous views of the PNW.

Mason Lake trail is a wonderful hike. No snow or ice on the road. We enjoyed the waterfalls, even green trees, Mount Rainer view on the way up. No so much traffic, the forest is nice and quite. The Lake view is stunning. The hike is much easy than we expected.

hiking
21 days ago

Hiked on 11/18. Gate closed so u have to hike half mile to TH. No bathrooms, no parking fee. Took trip around the lake first which was quite serene. No sun, no views but lots of cool mushrooms, unusual tree roots

This is a beautiful hike.

hiking
22 days ago

Great hike but definitely not an easy hike. Incline most of the day with little switchbacks to change up the hike but the lake and views of Rainier make it totally worth it.

Just do the bottom half of the trail.

Too hard and far to drive to there.

hiking
23 days ago

Did this hike today with my brother in law . Overall a decent hike with a moderate grade. Nothing too challenging. First 2 miles is a bunch of switchbacks in the woods with not much to see but with a decent grade. After that it starts to level out a bit and then we hit the snow line around 5000 ft. This is where it actually got fun and much more scenic. The views were great and seeing all the burnt trees made for some interesting scenery. The top was windy and cold (25-30 degrees) but the sun kept it tolerable. Good hike if you’re looking for something with some distance but not too intense of a gain. I would probably hike this again.

hiking
23 days ago

Great hike, serene setting and landscape.

Great hike! It’s a long haul to the falls, but completely worth it!!

hiking
25 days ago

Steep. The road to the trail is well marked and well maintained. Little slick in November, probably not great in the rain. The trail is up the road 8810 just before where it narrows, about 50 yds back down the road from where you stop. There’s a sign. If you’re not on an obvious trail that’s marked at the trailhead, go back and look. Trust me when I say you don’t want to try going up the wrong way. (I did find the trail eventually). It doesn’t get less steep, but keep going to the top. The view of Mt Adams is spectacular. Mt St Helens is 80 miles away and looks great also. You can easily see mt hood as well. I understand Rainier is visible but it was clouded over. It’s very cold and windy on top, so layers. Trip down is a breeze.

We did this hike on Mothers Day. We took the old trail up & new trail down..wear proper shoes for the down hill. Amazing accomplishment....hardest
one for me so far

Wow!! That will be the reaction of 99.99% of people who do this hike, the other .01% are most likely crazy people. The magical, towering mountains around this mountain lake are simply breathtaking. It was a cold day with ice and a little snow in the higher elevations of the trail. The lake isn’t frozen over yet and the water still shows the bright blue color it’s known for. We clicked it at 8 miles round trip. Took us about 3 hrs up and 2 hrs back down. There is a few spots with fallen trees that you will need to go over or under. But overall the trail is very well maintained and easy to navigate.

Definitely a workout! Did this hike on Monday (11/13) and it was relatively busy at the top from it being a holiday. My phone recorded round trip about 12 miles, but I’m not sure how accurate this is. The last 0.5 miles are a grind but the view from the top is worth it. Watch for ice patches, poles are a good idea. When we hiked a group of hockey players were taking up a fire hydrant, look for it at the top!!

hiking
27 days ago

Really beautiful hike around this time of the year, this hike offers some of the best views Washington trails has to offer. The lake is starting to freeze up and theres lots of snow and black ice once you start getting to higher elevations so be cautious! I would say this trail falls more on the moderate side than hard, it took us 3 hours to get to the top and 2 hours going back down. Would recommend this hike for everyone!

Road to the trailhead is very well maintained for a forest service road. There are a few pot holes but they’re more like speed bumps and easily avoided, my Honda Civic had no issues getting there if you’re worried. Trail to the base of the falls is easy and short, if you want more of a challenge hiking to the upper trail #152 has some steeper sections. Couldn’t really see the falls from the upper trail but found some cool camp spots with a view for backpacking.

Got a clear day today 11/12 and it was phenomenal views at the top. With the exception of the first half mile and maybe last half mile (which are steep) the hike is pretty chill. Well worth it on a clear day, def be prepared for wind and dropping temps up top. Happy hiking

The only reason I am taking a star off is the lack of signs this trail has. Towards the end my friend and I took a major detour because there were fallen trees and the trail was hidden with snow. We found the lake though! So worth the hike we did it round trip in 4 hours and a half. Very icy towards the end so be careful.

hiking
1 month ago

Very nice hike. Not very steep, except for the short trail that takes you up to the Falls Creek Trail #152. I went up to the base of the falls and then to the viewpoint above the falls and then completed the loop and my Alltrails app recorded 6.5 miles.

Great Hike.

hiking
1 month ago

My friend and I, who I'd classify as novice hikers, were able to complete this hike in 7 hours. It took us 4.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down.

We went on Nov. 2nd the conditions were muddy at most. No ice on the trail that we experienced.

There are some seriously beautiful viewpoints on the way up and was well worth it at the end. Unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy so we hope to go back again in the summer to see it all again.

We persevered but I wouldn't recommend this to someone who is totally inexperienced. It was very hard for us. However, a great hike for any seasoned hiker.

In addition, we both recorded approximately 10 miles, not the the listed 7.7 miles.

hiking
1 month ago

This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life! The trail is tough but not as hard as some other hikes I’ve done. The views at the top are absolutely worth it, take a day trip and go here. You won’t be disappointed! Also, lots of Chipmunks!

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