DISTANCE
3.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,194 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

snow

hiking
1 month ago

I hiked this trail today, 20 October 2018.

This trail and lake are gorgeous! The route is a manageable distance and elevation change, but the altitude slowed me down more than I expected. I imagine this lake being absolutely stunning on a sunny day (needs sun to be bright blue!) after a light snow. The sky today was clear and the lake was incredible. It’s not a massive lake, but definitely big enough for dogs and brave people to swim around and enjoy. The river, flowers, and icy waterfalls on the way were beautiful as well.

Trail:
The AllTrails directions will get you to the exact trailhead parking. Start your app where you have service and keep it on if you’d like to double check your progress to the lake. You’ll park along the road before the “9000 ft elevation” sign. Walk down the hill and cross the creek. You should see the trail go back up and over. The creeks were passable at this time without getting wet (as long as you can jump or rock walk, but it still isn’t that intense). Keep in mind that they’ll be a bit fuller and faster later in the day as the ice melts.
I found the trail to be easily followable. The path is well worn, and even at spots that were briefly uncertain, the area is clear enough to look on and see where you need to go. It’s a fairly straight trail anyway, you could point-and-shoot/river walk your way there easily. The hardest part was a bit of a rock slide scramble, but it was manageable. There was no ice or snow today to deal with. The only confusing part I got to was the last plateau of elevation before the last few tenths of a mile. The trail kind of abruptly ended at a step ridge, and it wasn’t obvious to me whether I was supposed to go over it or to head down the cliff side to the river. I realized that dropping down to the river was the correct way after a bit of bumbling around the ridge figuring the river will get me there anyway. The drop to the river was a bit harrowing at first, but there are plenty of rocks to make multiple points of contact on so you don’t totally eat it. From there, it was an easy walk up the river/trail to the lake.
The walk back is obviously just as simple. You can see the road once you’re halfway back. I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but it’s really really hard to get lost. There are opportunities to take a harder path over some rocks of course. My dog always found an easier way it seemed!

Overall, I thought this trail was moderate for someone in reasonable shape who can handle some climbing or at least butt scooting up and down rocks. It would’ve been easy if it weren’t for the altitude and those two spots that were a bit difficult to traverse.

Time:
I left the trailhead at 7:45 AM, about 20 minutes after sunrise. No one else was parked there, and I had about two hours to myself at the lake before heading back. I didn’t pass anyone else until about 11:15 when I was almost back to my car. At that point the lot was almost full and about 5 people were headed to the lake.
Leaving that early was nice because it was definitely bright enough to see, but the ridge shaded the trail (there are no trees) on the way up. Once I got to the lake, I had to wait about 30 minutes for the sun to hit the lake and reflect it’s gorgeous blue.

Dogs:
My hiking buddy today was my 16 month old lab mix. Apparently these trails require dogs to be on leash, but there were a few times I had to let him off so that we could safely negotiate the rock scrambles and creek crossings without messing each other up. I recommend having your pup wear a harness. It’s far easier for humans to scoot down steep ridges without forward momentum sending you over, and I had to pull on him a few times to help him brake. Of course he jumped rocks, creeks, and swam in the lake like a CHAMP. Keep this in mind if your dog is not the best on off leash recall, or if they’re not the most agile. Your dog will need supervision/coaching, especially on those steep parts I mentioned. Also, check their paws for scratches/blisters. Apply paw wax before leaving if they aren’t used to walking on rocks.

Bring:
Layers! It was in the 40s when I started hiking. About halfway, I got hot enough to shed the jacket and balaclava. It was also a tad windy at the lake.
Sunscreen. There is no shade after about 1030 AM.
Snacks. I like to bring dried fruit at high altitudes. There didn’t appear to be wildlife threats keeping people from bringing small snacks. I did not bring my dogs meat snacks though.
Water. I had a 2.5 liter camelbak that more than lasted me. My dog had some, but mostly preferred the cold, fresh river water to the lodge tap water (I don’t blame him).
Actual hiking boots. You’ll need them when avoiding slippery small rock slides while gripping onto bigger rocks that are cold or slick in the creek. Also, some rock spots are ankle breakers.

I think poles are unnecessary, if not inconvenient. I needed my hands free for the rock scrambles.

Enjoy!