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    Chris Munson reviewed Lodge Lake Trail

    about 1 month ago

    In brief, a nice trail that takes you up a vast open hillside near a ski resort, then into lush woods leading down to an unremarkable lake. What really stood out for me, and those who are interested in flora, was the spectacular diversity of mushrooms and fungi that are everywhere, and across a full spectrum of colors (ever seen PURPLE mushrooms?) The opportunity for photo ops of natural minutiae are almost endless. This is a nice, short, pretty walk, but offers little with respect to scenic wonder. I might add - to the A$$ who left his dog $hit on the trail, pick it up, or keep your animal at home. Loser.

    Chris Munson completed Lodge Lake Trail

    about 1 month ago

    Chris Munson reviewed Eightmile Lake Trail

    6 months ago

    Mixed feelings on this one, having been to many other pristine Alpine Lakes. Definitely not a hike for a warm day, as you’re completely exposed to the sun. It’s tedious and uphill the entire time. The surrounding vistas are beautiful. The “lower lake” is absolutely gorgeous; Eightmile Lake itself is somewhat disappointing, the area around it is mostly charred remnants of previous forest fire damage, and the fact that it has an artificial concrete control wall at its mouth, as well as rock buildup, is displeasing. I would not choose to visit again.

    Chris Munson completed Eightmile Lake Trail

    6 months ago

    Chris Munson saved Barclay Lake Trail

    6 months ago

    Chris Munson saved Twin Falls Trail

    7 months ago

    Chris Munson saved Lake 22 Trail

    7 months ago

    Chris Munson reviewed Heather Lake Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Did this hike today (9/16/17), and while obviously popular to a majority of folks, it pales in comparison to more rewarding hikes as Lake 22, Snow Lake, Lake Serene, and even Olallie Lake. I did find the trail in particular, quite enjoyable, with variegated terrain; roots and rocks are both plentiful, and the surrounding forest is spectacular, especially with regards to the massive old growth tree stumps scattered throughout. The climb is reasonable, and not knee breaking. The lake itself is pleasant, and perhaps I was biased in that the level was so low, but it does not have the pristine color and depth of others. The surrounding mountains are indeed beautiful. It was an easy 1.25 hours up, and 1.25 back; I'm slow, so those in better shape/younger will make this trip with ease. Pick a big rock at the edge of the lake, grab a perch, have some lunch, and relax - and then walk around the whole lake, to get many perspectives. A nice visit for families.

    Chris Munson completed Heather Lake Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Chris Munson reviewed Lake Serene Trail

    about 1 year ago

    The secret of a great trail is one that rewards you, not necessarily during its course, but at the end. And, the reward is "generally proportional" to the difficulty of the trek; if it requires strenuous effort, it is fairly certain that the destination will be well worth the effort.
    Such is the case with Lake Serene, a beautiful, crystalline lake nestled in the Cascade mountains, as you approach Stevens Pass, not far from Mount Index. With the trail but a "mere" length of 3.4 miles (one way), one would mistakenly believe that this is an "easy" journey, but elevation is the key. The first 1.4 miles winds across a very well manicured and slightly inclined path, taking you up a gentle 500 feet, where the hiker is given a choice: another one half mile to Bridal Veil Falls (in and of itself a very beautiful spot to visit), or another two miles to Lake Serene.
    These two miles to the lake traverse a full 2,150 foot climb, through a series of long, wooden steps, rocky passages, and switchbacks that are, needless to say, very steep. In fact, at 1.4 miles into the lake trail, you encounter a 46% grade; 46%!!! This is where the trail earns its "hard" rating on trail apps, and to date, has been my most challenging, by far. I cannot claim that going uphill was in any way "pleasant", but the return downhill, by retrospect, was torturous, with my knees taking the greatest brunt.
    Regardless of experience, arrival at the lake imparts an immediate and substantial award; this lovely pool of blue-green water is satisfyingly clear, cool, and inviting, surrounded by high ridges and remnants of the previous winter snowfall. Sitting on a large rock at the edge of the water to eat lunch, I spotted a beautiful trout in the water, and another small fish nearby. Finishing, I crossed a cleverly crafted log bridge that carried me across the lake's mouth, which pours down and feeds the aforementioned falls. A short trail then carried me over to a very large, smooth rock named "Lunch Rock", where a number of people were relaxing, and a few people even decided to use it as a "launching spot" to jump into the crisp waters.
    Next to Snow Lake, in Snoqualmie Pass, I've yet to encounter such a pleasant, hidden, and indeed aptly named tarn as lovely as Lake Serene. While I was taxed by this adventure, the seven hour excursion was WELL worth the effort. If your body and will are up to the task, this is a MUST SEE destination that will greatly satisfy your sense of adventure and search of natural beauty.

    Chris Munson 9/11/17

    Chris Munson reviewed Heliotrope Ridge Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Next to Kendall Katwalk on Snoqualmie Pass, this was my absolute favorite trail to date. An incredible trail takes you up a long incline through heavy canopy for about a mile, then across several water crossings (the first, a trickle, the next three moderate), and switchbacks, where at 2.4 miles, you can choose between the opportunity to view Coleman Glacier up close (and traverse a difficult water crossing), or turn right and head upwards onto the "climber's path", a 600 foot near vertical climb across 0.4 miles to the ridge. At the halfway point of the climber trail, the view of Baker, it's glaciers, moraines, and a panorama at near 5,500 feet is breathtaking. Do NOT miss this very popular and utterly worthwhile trail if you are in the Mount Baker area!!

    Chris Munson completed Heliotrope Ridge Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Chris Munson reviewed Rattlesnake Ledge Trail

    about 1 year ago

    An incredible view of the Snoqualmie valley and surrounding watershed awaits the visitor. This is a heavily trafficked trail, well maintained, with reasonable inclines and heavy canopy. I went in late spring on a mostly cloudy day, which was still beautiful. The massive rock outcropping at the top provides ample room for visitors, and a near 300 foot drop to the forest and lake below. Very enjoyable, and a nice, short distance.

    Chris Munson completed Rattlesnake Ledge Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Chris Munson reviewed Twin Falls Trail

    over 1 year ago

    A beautiful hike along the Skykomish river, which offers a great view of the valley prior to the falls. The trail then takes a steep incline as it climbs upwards to a bridge overlook across a wonderful set of falls, then a nice overlook at the next level; past this point, it's a tight walk through the woods with little to see. THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT, HOWEVER, IS PRIOR TO THE BRIDGE, there is a set of unmarked wooden steps that go down to the right. DO NOT MISS THESE STEPS - these steps take you to THE HIGHLIGHT of the trail, an incredibly tall, lacy waterfall that shimmers like silk down a rock face. I missed this, and actually decided to check the stairs ON THE RETURN TRIP. "Boos" to the forest service for not clearly marking these stairs - again, DO NOT MISS THEM. The waterfall at the bottom is INCREDIBLE.

    Chris Munson completed Twin Falls Trail

    over 1 year ago

    Chris Munson reviewed Talapus Lake Trail via Pratt Lake Trailhead

    over 1 year ago

    Standard "trail fare" with a few nice brooks crossing the trail. Unremarkable otherwise, with no openings/interesting vistas. Incline is reasonably steep and constant. Well marked for the split to Talapus Lake. In my case, I opted then to split again towards Olallie Lake, which was beautiful, had towering overgrowth with excellent open areas beneath, and a few nice places to sit and have lunch on the shoreline. Saw several people swimming/tubing in the lake. Bugs were ridiculous throughout the woods and at the lake, so be prepared. A nice walk but lacking in substantial scenery.

    Chris Munson reviewed Kendall Katwalk Trail

    over 1 year ago

    As only one very small part of the Pacific Crest trail, Kendall Katwalk trail is an astounding, beautiful, and breathtaking journey across just about every natural "feature" one could want in a trail excursion. And while the destination (the "Katwalk") is spectacular, the journey to it is rife with astounding views. Today's visit (7/29/17) was nearly incomparable, my only caveat being that I'd wished to not suffer so much the day after, my feet, knees and lower back all complaining. But worth the price? Yes - FAR worth it.

    Arriving at the trail at 8:45, the parking lot was full; get there early, and have a Northwest forest pass, or pay a fee. Fortunately, an adjacent lot just north provided a single spot that I was able to squeeze into. It's a short walk to the trailhead, equipped as most better ones are, with restrooms and an information board. The Forest Service does an incredible job of maintenance on these trails!!

    Having traversed the trail, it's easy to "dissect" it into three distinctive sections, across a distance of just over seven miles (one-way), ascending 3,833 feet. The first 3.5 miles are most pleasant, drawing the hiker through thick forest canopy, mostly sheltered from the sun, on a nice gradual climb. This took me two hours. At 3.6 miles, the trail "splits", and can be deceiving; as you exit the woods and come out into the open, you can climb some rocks in front of you, and continue on, or go to the right, which remains a nice dirt path. GO RIGHT - which is the correct path to the Katwalk.

    Shortly after the split, you again enter the woods into what I refer to as the "second section", also covered in canopy. Here, you will encounter steeper, smooth switchbacks that curve their way through the forest. The trail itself is relatively smooth, though there are several outcroppings of roots and rocks along the way. The most interesting part of this area is being able to look up at the trail and see people well above you on the switchbacks, knowing that you have to make it up there, too! After two miles of uphill climb, you break out into the open, onto a massive rock bed.

    On this particular day, with bright sun in the sky, I saw some people up ahead looking towards the hill. There, perched atop a rock about twenty feet above, was a large marmot, casually watching the hikers below. It was my first "encounter" of one of these animals, just another discovery in a series of adventures. More importantly, I was in the third and final section, having only about 1.5 miles to go.

    But here, the real magic begins. Turning to look towards the southeast, the horizon was graced with the massive beauty of a snow-covered Mount Rainier! What a lovely surprise, and an incredible backdrop for photographs. It was both an unexpected and wonderful delight, obviously a highlight of the trail, as many folks were stopped in this area, looking beyond.

    With interstate 90 appearing as a narrow ribbon in the valley below, the height of the climb became obvious! After a short break, and a snack, I trudged forward, as the path led around open curves, and beautiful vistas of the valley and ridges that surrounded the path. Wildflowers abounded, in all shades.

    There is a point where the path no longer parallels the valley, but turns and takes you to the other side of the mountain, onto new ridges and overlooks. There are a number of places to stop and take photos, with sharp, stony ridges and even remnants of snow, lingering here late in July. It seemed like I would never reach the Katwalk, though I was told by several hikers that I was "getting close".

    A few more twists, turns, a flattening of the trail, some shaded spots, and there it was! The Katwalk, so named because of the sheer drop on one side, and a cut rock face to the other, is a short (40-50 feet) expanse. Fear not, however; it's about eight to nine feet wide, which exits onto more pathway that leads you farther into the wilderness, and as I'm told, to some alpine lakes beyond.

    But here my journey ended, a four hour trek, as I stopped to rest and have lunch. As I sat and pulled out my sandwich, birds took a sudden interest; these are the infamous "Grey Jays", or more appropriate "camp robbers", known for their tendency to readily walk off with edible items whenever they surround a camp site.

    As I sat and ate, I pulled bits of bread from my sandwich, and tossed them away, with the birds swooping down on them. I then held a piece in my fingers to see what would happen; one of the birds immediately flew onto my hand, grabbed the food, sat for a few seconds, and then flew away. What a great experience!!

    The trek back in the warmer mid afternoon sun took two hours and fifty minutes, with the total trek adding up to nearly 7.5 hours. Of all the trails I've encountered to date, the majority having waterfall or lake destinations, this one was the longest (14.5 miles round trip), offered the best changes in terrain, and had the most outstanding vista views by

    Chris Munson completed Kendall Katwalk Trail

    over 1 year ago

    Chris Munson saved Kendall Katwalk Trail

    over 1 year ago

    Chris Munson reviewed Annette Lake Trail

    over 1 year ago

    Annette Lake - a small, pretty lake, but it's a lot of work for what you get. Today's visit (7/23/17) was interesting, my only caveat being that I'd wished the skies more clear, and the bugs not to be as voracious as they were.

    The information regarding distance of the trail is somewhat misleading, as the forest service indicated four miles one way, not 6.6 miles as stated above. But, it's quite an ascent for the distance, at 2,244 feet.

    The trail? Unexceptional, in regards to photo opportunities, but full of rocks, roots, fallen trees, and steep switchbacks. The trail starts with a nice bridge overlooking a pretty waterfall, then onto a reasonable, slight climb through heavy canopy and twists/turns, and across a "well flowered" power line path, before you reach a gravel service road (probably about a mile in). Once past the road, there is a superb path feature: a fallen tree that has been carefully hewn into steps (with a guardrail) that carries the traveler.

    Then, the challenge begins. Some of the ascents are both short and steep, and the switchbacks come on full bore; be prepared. The trail has a handful of valley/mountain views, a nice small waterfall, and small, dry channels (that funnel snow melt in season) to cross.

    There is a short (3/4 mile?) reprieve prior to the lake, where the trail finally flattens out, and even goes downhill. At the lake itself, you can traverse a number of trails along the shore, to access a variety of vantage points, but there are no real "places" to park yourself - though I found a stump and "bench" to stop at and rest, and eat lunch.

    The lake? Crisp and clear, cold water, with patches of turquoise and green, mingled with near shore brown areas. The view of the surrounding range(s) are adequate, but not as stunning as others, like Lake 22 or Snow Lake. An interesting point - alongside the lake was a grove of tall trees which had many campfire pits, so I imagine that an overnight visit might be a pleasant one, as there is a lot of room for camping.

    The journey today started at 8:40 AM, with the temperature (roughly) in the 50's, and cloudy; the sun broke through at 10:15. I wore a long sleeve t-shirt over another t-shirt, and this was adequate. It took me three hours to reach the lake, but as a novice, and the elevation climb, I was happy to succeed in arriving. The area around the lake was partially cloudy, and still. Here's a quick summary of my own solo trip:

    Traffic: moderate; several small groups, lots of dogs

    Trail condition: wet in a very few areas, predominantly dry, sometimes dusty.

    Trail comments: at least 70% rocky, and littered with twisted roots in the wooded areas. Path was obvious with no real diversions. Plenty of room in all sections to move off and allow uphill traffic. Few sunlit/open areas. Very few narrow passages or areas of caution.

    Weather: Excellent, temperate. Afternoon brought more sun, but clouds remained over the lake.

    Photo opps: fair on trail; best at the lake itself.

    Bugs: bad; circling flies on the trail, and excessive at the lake. I had repellent which I wiped on; it was only partially helpful.

    Wildlife: None seen.

    Water consumed: Three liters

    Total time spent: 8:40AM TO 2:20PM, 5.6 hours

    Final comments: this trail is called "moderate" for a reason, and as a novice hiker, I found it reasonably challenging; it's a high ascent, and the steep parts were taxing. Not recommended for small children, or those who would struggle on an easy trail. Hiking poles are recommended, as well as adequate water and food, sunscreen, and sunglasses (if the day is bright). Unfortunately, because the bugs were a real bother, and the lake was less than spectacular for the hike, I can only give it three stars. Great for the exercise, but not for the scenery.

    Chris Munson completed Annette Lake Trail

    over 1 year ago

    Chris Munson reviewed Snow Lake Trail

    over 1 year ago

    A genuine gift awaits the traveler to Snow Lake. Today's visit (7/16/17) was spectacular, my only caveat being that I'd wished the skies more clear, but given the beauty of the place, it was easily overlooked.

    The information regarding distance of the trail is somewhat misleading, as the forest service indicated three segments at 1.7 miles each, the total mileage at 5.1 miles, not 6.6 miles as stated above. Not a big deal, but I'd believed it was 6.6 miles to the overlook.

    The trail? An exceedingly beautiful one, with just about everything one could hope for. The trail starts with well manicured log steps that carry you up onto a long transit, through heavy canopy, onto boulder fields that are immense in height and depth, and in and out of a variety of trees and open areas. At the split to Source Lake (1.7 miles), the switchbacks begin, carrying the traveler upwards another 1.7 miles to a stopping point. These switchbacks are steep, so be prepared. The trail is resplendent with phenomenal views of the valley below, wildflowers, sheer rock wall faces, and small rivulets of water to cross.

    At 3.4 miles there is a marked tree; you can go behind the tree and continue directly on down to the lake (another 1.7 miles) or to the left - an overlook - a massive rock formation that provides a wonderful stop for rest, a snack, and a plethora of photo opportunities. Going past the overlook will also lead you down to the lake via another path; the choice is yours.

    At the lake, you can traverse a number of trails along the shore, to access a variety of vantage points. There is a small but lovely stream with a number of beautiful waterfalls, that winds its way to the lake. The lake? Phenomenally crisp and cold water, with patches of turquoise aside the shore, and deep blue waters beyond. Wildflowers abound here as well, and the view of the surrounding range(s) are stunning, especially with remnants of snow that remain even into mid-July.

    The journey today started at 8:45 AM, with the temperature at 46 degrees; be prepared with layered clothing, as you'll need it. It took me 2.25 hours to reach the overlook, but as a novice, I was happy to succeed in arriving. The winds at the overlook were strong, and I could actually see my breath when I arrived there at 11 AM, though I can't say how cold it was. Interestingly, I had cell service at the overlook (one bar, and LTE), which was utterly surprising, because of location. Here's a quick summary of my own solo trip:

    Traffic: moderate; several small groups, lots of dogs

    Trail condition: wet in a few areas, but predominantly dry and dusty. A few snow/mud patches on the descent to the lake.

    Trail comments: at least 80% rocky, and littered with twisted roots in the wooded areas. Well marked, which is a bonus. Plenty of room in all sections to move off and allow uphill traffic.
    Very few narrow passages or areas of caution.

    Weather: cool. Afternoon brought more sun, but clouds dominated the trip, especially over the lake.

    Photo opps: outstanding; many, many vistas on the trail itself, and at the lake.

    Bugs: present; not extreme, but buzzing flies were somewhat annoying (I did consume one, involuntarily:)). Bees frequented the flowers.

    Wildlife: Chipmunks and grey jays (camp robbers).

    Water consumed: Three liters

    Total time spent: 8:45AM TO 3:00PM; 6.25 hours

    Final comments: this trail is called "moderate" for a reason, and as a novice hiker, I found it reasonably challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Not recommended for small children, or those who would struggle on an easy trail. Hiking poles are recommended, as well as layered clothing, adequate water and food, sunscreen, and sunglasses (if the day is bright). Overall, my most pleasing trail experience next to Lake 22. Highly recommended!!!

    Chris Munson saved Snow Lake Trail

    over 1 year ago

    Chris Munson completed Snow Lake Trail

    over 1 year ago