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Attempted upper lena today. The snow line started around the first creek crossing and we were postholing for a while and decided to turn around.

My spouse, two dogs and I hiked this trail two days after Christmas. It was peaceful and quiet. This was our first hike in the Capitol State Forest, which came highly recommended by a mentor and colleague of mine. A first was our hiking through deforestation; it appears the loggers in this area “cleaned up” the region far better than I have seen elsewhere. It was good to see the state or had undergone a vast replanting effort in the deforested sections of the park. This trail gives you an up close view of the beauty of forested land, mountain lookouts, deforestation, and reforestation (if that’s a word). You’ll enjoy this hike.

Park in the Camp Sheppard Trailhead parking lot. Easy and gentle incline all the way to the falls. We went counter-clockwise and found the incline wasn't as steep as the descent. There was a somewhat trecherous crossing once we got up to the falls that required microspikes and many deep breaths. We encountered a few groups that turned around once reaching the snow crossing, but we had the right gear where it wasn't a problem.

hiking
27 days ago

This is a hard hike but also really pretty. There was too much snow after the no stoves point so we couldn’t finish the trail.

I spent the night at Upper Lena Lake a couple years back and loved it! The lake is pristine and the vegetation is renewing.

hiking
2 months ago

Pretty steep hike near the end, but a super fun one to do right now (mid-end of October) to see the lake frozen over and the glistening frost!

backpacking
2 months ago

Hiked this with my son in September. This is a great hike for all ages and levels.

the roots and rope climbing sections here are definitely a highlight

hiking
2 months ago

hiked this about month ago and the trail was not hard the climb to buckhorn lake was long switch backs but well worth the hike just for the views

Very pretty hike, even when the falls are not going!

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked this yesterday with four friends. We loved the hike and felt like it was a great one for a lot of people as the incline is gradual until you turn to head up to the wreckage. We enjoyed it all, explored a cave, saw the wreckage, added a couple extra miles to the trip because we let a directionally challenged person guide us, and still we all enjoyed it!

hiking
3 months ago

Went out October 10-14 and no bugs but very very cold. If you are going to the crash site it’s very well defined for a trail with some confusion at the top of the ridge where it starts to disappear but stay to the right and you will eventually see the wreckage appear to your left. We camped here our first couple nights.

If you are going to the mine we were told it was wet and slippery. The trail to the summits is confusing at mile 3.2, stay to the right and if you end up going to the mine that’s the trail headed left but a large portion of this area has been used for camping and everything looks like a hiking trail.

Another item to note is that once you past the Creek beyond the mine camps there is another split in the trail, if you go straight it’s shorter but very steep, if you go right it’s about twice as far but a lot easier especially if it’s wet.

backpacking
3 months ago

Great trail with lots of interesting old copper mines. Would recommend going in the fall to avoid the mosquitoes.

We did it last week in 3 days. Be ready for rain always on this hike. If you are prepared, it’s awesome! We had a late start, 2:45, and ended at O’neil with plenty of light - bear wire is in-op here so don’t count on it or bring twine or the recommended canister. Tip - there is no privy at Pytrites. At least at O’Neil you have some cover and a place to go without digging or being rained on. Enchanted Valley is great, we were mid-week so it was not crowded. No wild life presented itself besides the slug eating beetles. But, the waterfalls are going off! Take time to explore here. We explored, opting to hike out in one day. It’s 13-14 miles to punch out but easy ups/downs make it not too bad. I do train outside of hiking to do this. I am well over 50 and got my but kicked in the past trying to hike when out of shape. Stay strong!

September 2018. We split the hike into four days to take it easy. First night we camped at O’Neil Creek but I wish we had pushed on to Pyrites. Second night we walked right past the Enchanted Valley and camped about another mile up the trail. The valley floor itself was just crowded and brushy and not very pretty. The views there were nice but all the camping spots were far from the river or wet and grassy with little cover. Overall it was a nice hike and my first time in a temperate rainforest. I wasn’t lucky enough to see any bears or elk. Any problem addressed in older reviews about downed trees blocking the trail are no longer valid. The trail is free of obstacles and well maintained.

Absolutely beautiful hike, stunning views, difficult at times, even saw a black bear in the valley!

Easy walk but there was no water fall at all, so it was disappointing. Need to wait for the rainy season.

Great trail for Mt. Biking. Depending on which way you go around the loop you could end up biking uphill most of the way. My 8 year old boy did the whole loop and loved it.

Exhausting, but we'll worth it. Distance seems to be debatable, feels like way more than 6 miles. Streams on the way up to cool off and refill water. The lake is amazing, goats all around and snow packs near by. highly recommend!

If you want something challenging, don't do this one. Mostly flat and easy. More like a walk in the woods than a hike. Unless you take the side trail up to the falls. Which, in late summer is more of a dribble than a waterfall. Still really cool and worth the trip up. The rock wall is covered in moss and really cool.

We went midday and it wasn't crowded at all. Only saw one other couple on the trail going. Three small groups of mountain bikers passed by.

Overall, a really good one to do if you just want to get some wiggles out. Flat and easy enough for kids if you don't go up to the falls (seriously... it's steep!). It was a warm day, but being by the river and mostly shaded, it was perfect!

Absolutely worth the grueling and challenging hike. Spent 1 night up at the lake and although my body is still dying, I'm already planning a second trip!
Definitely not for the lighthearted!

camping
5 months ago

Hiked this last month. The B17 crash is really cool. It’s a steep hike but I highly recommend. We ended up camping at Buckhorn lake and summiting buckhorn mountain. It’s a gorgeous area.

backpacking
5 months ago

The lower half of this hike is quite enjoyable, but the upper portion was a bit dry/exposed for my taste. If doing an out-and-back, I would stop at the top of the ridgeline where views are best. The descent to Boulder Camp is good as a place to stay if you are overnighting.

P. S. If you intend on visiting Buckhorn Lake, be prepared to face the wrath of biting insects of all kinds. My dogs and I were essentially forced to camp here for a night after we stopped here originally intending to get in a small snack, rest, and shade before pressing on. Despite generous amounts of picaridin lotion and personal netting, we were so quickly overwhelmed by the insects that I had to set up my tent and wait for dusk to even filter water. I'm talking biting flies 1/2" long, mosquitoes that use those as a distraction to get you anywhere you aren't 110% covered in deterrent, and a host of other biters that hardly mind the taste of bug deterrents. Once we were in the tent, the large ones literally began ramming/bouncing off the tent like miniature homing missiles relentlessly until dusk. All we heard for hours was continual buzzing punctuated by regular taps akin to the sound of pebbles being flicked at my tent. They were back by first light as well...

Hiked this one week ago with my two kids. Putvin trail is maintained and beautiful. Highly recommend. But, the lake of the angels trail is not well maintained and I would NOT recommend for children under 16! Loose dirt, steep, and at times dangerous. We finally had to turn around about 1/2 mile from the lake because it was too dangerous for my 12 year old. One slip on steep, loose dirt and he could have fallen off the side of the mountain. Lake of the angels made Mt. Ellinor(we just hiked it a couple weeks ago) seem easy! Hope this helps!!

This hike has been on my list for a very long time. I can finally check that box! What a beautiful hike. It did, however, meet and exceed previous trip reports on how hard it is. It is very demanding. Steep in parts, steeper still in other parts. I encourage you, if you are setting out on this adventure, to remember to stop and take in the scenery. It is endless beauty from the start to the unbelievably gorgeous lake at the end. If you are thinking of trying this hike/climb be aware there are a couple of kinda dangerous parts aside from the rest of the trail. One is scrambling up rocks and roots, and the other has a fixed rope up a rocky section that is a big help. They both have minimal exposure, and are pretty easy to climb up, just be cautious. The trail is in great shape, and easy to follow. The lake...I’ve looked at so many pictures of this, and my breath was taken away by how beautiful it was in person. My breath was also taken away when I jumped in for a dip! You gotta do it, it is like jumping into an ice cube I think. There was a family of around 6 goats hanging out up there which was pretty cool. Mountains soaring on every side, beautiful sound of the wilderness to accompany you for lunch. It truly is my idea of heaven.

Great trail! The only downfall is it having potholes. And, don't bring your 55 yr. old dad.

Everyone else’s review is spot on. Lower Lena... no problem (very popular with a lot of chatty Cathy’s, small dogs, and families on the weekend) but Upper Lena is a bit challenging. Steep, trails overgrown with vegetation, often difficult to decipher or find, and random spots with heavy horse flies. I counted 15 downed trees that I either had to climb over, under, or around and I missed a switch back shortly after the lower Lena split and wandered off the trail. There was also another questionable creek crossing that was not clearly depicted. Needless to say I found Upper Lena and it was definitely worth it! Heard a mountain goat bleat in the distance around sunset but never saw one. A lot of deer activity at night near my tent (5 feet away/campsite #9) and mosquitoes were thick! Mosquito/insect repellent is a must!

Great hike, but really technical! I carried up 50 lbs on this hike out and back in a day! From a backpacker perspective, this trail sucks in a lot of ways! The trail up to Lower Lena Lake is pretty cut and dry, but upper Lena Lake is a lot more demanding. There were several downed trees which I either had to take my pack off and crawl under or crawl with the pack on. This was irritating and also low-lying vegetation which obstructs the view of the trail. The bugs were relentless at the top so bring plenty of spray. That being said, it was a beautiful lake and a scenic hike. I hike 2 days a week and just think there are nicer trails to pack weight on! Also, I would not solo this one again!

Great views, fantastic river and amazing location to camp! With unbelievable wildlife. Enjoy and be safe.

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