DISTANCE
5.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
826 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

backpacking
16 days ago

I feel like you can’t start a trip report from Ashland Lakes without talking about the road. Yep, it’s every bit as bad as every other report says it is. For reference, I drove a Toyota Tundra to the trailhead. One of the potholes was big enough to fit the entire truck. Seriously. All four tires were in. It was also filled with water so it was like driving through a pond. That said, just drive slow. Most cars can make it.

We arrived at the trailhead at 11:00 on a Saturday morning and there were no parking spaces available. So I kept driving and found a pullout about two hundred feet further down the road with room for about two vehicles. Speaking of parking, remember that this is a Washington Discover Pass trailhead. I noticed about half the cars were sporting Northwest Forest Passes hanging from their mirrors, even though there is a giant sign as you enter the parking area reminding you that you need a Discover Pass. Kudos to the guy who had both a Northwest Forest Pass and a Discover Pass in his window. Way to cover your bases! And shame on the two vehicles that didn’t show any pass… may karma and a ranger catch up to them.

Anyway, hitting the trail, the first half mile or so are easy going. You’ll come to a nice sturdy bridge crossing a creek. After that it starts to climb a bit and the trail becomes rougher. There’s plenty of slippery boardwalk (I slipped twice over the course of the weekend), exposed roots, and slippery rocks. I was with a group of Boy Scouts ranging in age from 11 to 15 and they all navigated it like they were pros.

The first lake is Beaver Plant Lake, it was my favorite of the three. There are a couple of campsites here, but none are suitable for a group so we had to keep moving. But if you are looking for a nice place to camp, there is an especially nice site for just one tent that’s next to the creek at the outlet of the lake.

It’s a short and easy hike from Beaver Plant to Upper Ashland Lake. Upper Ashland has more campsites, and they were mostly full when we got there. So we decided to head down to Lower Ashland. The descent was relatively steep, so we were hopeful that we’d find a spot to camp there since we weren’t looking forward to carrying our heavy packs back up the hill the same day. We were starting to get discouraged when we got to the lower lake and found the first campsite taken. It was a fairly large site that had exactly one tent in it. We kept going and found a much larger campsite just down the trail.

For reference, we had five tents in our group. Later in the evening a large family came in looking for a spot. We shared the space with them, they had four tents. We probably could have fit two more tents in the area if needed. So if you are hiking with a group Lower Ashland Lake should be your destination.

Sunday morning we hiked out, and when we got back to the trailhead the parking lot was even more full than the day before. On our way back down the mountain we passed seven more cars headed up. Apparently being featured as Craig Romano’s Hike of the Week have given this hike some new popularity. Then again, it was nothing like the mess at Lake Twentytwo that we passed on our way home…