I am not sure why, but the hike to Lake Twenty-Two had been on my list for quite some time. Maybe because a number seems like an odd name for lake to me. Why name a lake a number? Where is Lake Twenty-One, Lake Seven, etc., who names these lakes anyway? It certainly is a beautiful lake though, and the hike there is absolutely outstanding. Now we have “been there, done that,” and loved it!
The beauty of the lake seems to be the big draw, but don’t forget to take note of the impressive forest most of the hike climbs through. There are more than many respectfully large trees to appreciate of along the trail.
And the views from the trail, equally impressive!
With boardwalk and trail running around the lake, we could easily explore the entire area. Snow still lingered at the far end, but not so deep that we could not find the trail again.
Packing in fishing gear, Kent tried his luck.
On the hike out, we had a good reminder of the importance of always carrying the ten essentials when hiking. Having drained our hydration units during the hike up to the lake, we stopped at a stream to purify water for a refill. Kent climbed a few feet off the trail, slightly up the stream bank, and pulled the water purifier out of his pack. Still close enough to easily carry on a conversation as he filtered the water, he turned his head to look at me as he spoke, and tumbled bac -, heels over head. Landing head first on a rock in a pool of water along side the trail, no serious injury was sustained; but, good thing we carried a first aid kit in our packs!
There is easy access to the Lake Twenty-Two trailhead from the Mountain Loop Highway. For driving directions and more information on this hike, visit the Washington Trails Association website, here – WTA, Lake Twenty-Two.
Fire lookouts are one of my favorite hiking destinations, and clear skies made this the perfect day to hike to the Heybrook Fire Lookout for the magnificant views.
The trail is a bit rugged in places as it works its way 850′ up through a now mossy forest that had been clearcut in the 1920s.
Constructed in 1965 and staffed until the early 1970’s, the original lookout was designed by former Washington State governor Dan Evans and rebuilt by Everett Mountaineer volunteers. The hike, described as “short and sweet and a tad bit steep” on the Washington Trails Association (WTA) website, is definitely worth the effort.
We climbed the sixty-seven steps to the observation deck where we could see Mount Persis, Mount Index, Philadelphia Mountain with even more peaks in the distance. What a great way to experience this piece of history!
This being the last day of our backpacking trip, we spent the morning leisurely enjoying our coffee on the shore of Goat Lake. How enticing it was to follow the delicious aroma from a pan of boiled cowboy coffee as I walked along the path through the meadow that led to the lake. I do not believe that a cup of coffee ever tasted so good.
And the view of Goat Lake as we sipped that coffee, was it not absolutely stunning?
After coffee, hoping maybe there would be fried fish for breakfast, we followed the trail around the lake to our favorite fishing spot.
Having seen a couple of proud hiker/fisher folks the morning before on their way back to camp with a nice bunch of fish on their stringers, that’s not how it worked out for us, so back at camp, we enjoyed hearty bowls of creamy oatmeal with cranberries and almonds.
After breakfast, we packed up and prepared to head out.
Having opted for the Lower Elliot Trail which followed the more wild and scenic Elliot Creek as it climbed in elevation and joined the Upper Elliot Trail about a mile before reaching Goat Lake for our hike up to the lake (see Hike #63 – Lower Elliot Trail – Day 1 – Goat Lake Backpacking Trip), we chose to follow the Upper Elliot Trail all the way back down to the trailhead. The Upper Elliot Trail is about one mile longer than the Lower Elliot Trail, but rated slightly easier because it follows what remains of an old logging road so its decrease in elevation is more gradual. Although still a bit of a challenge at times with its share of high-water stream crossings and a few areas where rock and mud slides had come close to completely wiping the trail out, we found this to be a very pleasant hike and enjoyed occasional views of distant snow-covered mountain peaks along the way.
Letting us know that we were indeed still in a mighty wilderness, more than once, we came upon trees that had falllen over the trail.
Plenty warm, somewhere in the mid-80s, as we hiked through dappled shade along the trail, with our heavy packs on our backs, the rare breeze was much appreciated.
An absolutely wonderful trip for breaking in that new birthday backpack (see: Happy Brithday – Sweet Sixty), during the entire three days, we covered approximately 10.4 miles along the Upper and Lower Elliot Trails, plus another mile or two on the primitive trails around Goat Lake.
Having set up our tent on the edge of a wooded campground above Goat Lake in the dark the evening before, it was not until morning that we realized what a wonderful view we had from that campsite. What a delight to view the snow capped peaks forming the cirque surrounding the lake and the lake itself immediately upon unzipping the door of our tent. Minutes after finishing our morning coffee, we were on a trail through the meadow on our way to the lake.
And wow, Goat Lake was stunning in the morning sun.
We headed back to camp and retrieved our food bag from up in the tree so we could cook breakfast. Because we had to carry everything we needed for our trip in our packpacks, we took the weight of everything into consideration before putting it in our packs. We planned our breakfast and dinner meals in advance and placed their dry ingredients in individual baggies. Our breakfasts consisted of dried oatmeal with powdered milk, dried raisins, dried bananas and almond slices. All we had to do was add water to the cook pot, pour in the contents of one of our breakfast baggies, cook over the backpacking stove, and in minutes we were each enjoying a bowl of rich, creamy oatmeal.
Next we set off to explore the primitive trails around Goat Lake.
The view of Cadet Peak was stunning in the bright sunshine.
A primitive trail runs nearly the entire length of one side of Goat Lake. While sometimes a little challenging, that trail was well worth the effort because of the stunning view.
Kent could not resist diving into that icey cold water.
We had plenty of time for fishing – and relaxing.
A large number of logs have drifted in on the end of Goat Lake where Elliot Creek flows out, so after dinner we walked out on those logs. It was a little tricky walking as some of the logs were completely emerged, others sank down below the surface of the water as soon as they were stepped upon, yet a majority of the logs (well, at least the largest ones) felt completely solid and safe as we carefully stepped our way from one log to another in order to work our way to the middle of that maze of logs.
Kent continued on much further than I until he reached the edge of that log jam so he could cast out his fishing line.
Because we were backpacking and needed to keep the weight of our packs down, except for one canteen of water each that we started our with when we began our hike the day before, the remainder of our cooking, cleaning and drinking water for the entire three-day trip was purified on the spot with our water purification system. Light weight and easy to use, with just a few pumps on its handle, an entire canteen was filled with fresh, cold, clear water free from particulites and bacteria. Because it is so convenient to use, in the future, I am certain we will be including this water purification system in our packs on day hikes too.
After the hike up to the campgrounds the day before, how wonderful it was to have the entire day to explore all the trails around the lake, fish, soak up the sun and relax.
Putting that new backpack and the hiking accessories received for my birthday (see: Happy Birthday – Sweet Sixty) to use, our first backpacking trip of the summer found us following the scenic Mountain Loop Highway to the Goat Lake trailhead. We registered for two nights of camping at the lake.
A spectacular backcountry lake – one of the largest in the area – awaits those who walk this way. Once the site of a bustling mining operation, complete with company town and lakeside hotel, Goat Lake boasts plenty of history along with its fine views. Waterfalls too! So grand is Goat that the Washington Department of Transportation chose it to grace its official road maps in the early 1990s. But you can’t drive there, so millions of map admirers never got any closer than a dusty road. You, however, are on your way.
As we set off on the Elliot Creek Trail #647, we indeed were on our way.
Within a half mile, we had reached signs pointing to the Upper and Lower Elliot trails. We decided to brave the rockier, muddier, but more picturesque, Lower Elliot trail for our hike up to the lake. Thinking we might be a bit fatigued after a weekend of hiking and hiking, we thought we would save that easier-to-navigate upper trail for our hike back down.
The roar of Elliot Creek was almost constant as the trail led us through the beautiful Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. With temps in the lower 80s, it felt warm as the trail continued to gain in elevation and we carried our heavy packs on our backs. Kent dipped my rolled bandana in the glacier-fed water of Elliot Creek several times so I could tie it around my hair and be instantly cooled as we continued along in the afternoon sun.
With several streams to ford, a bullfrog or two hopping along in front of us, plenty of wild flowers in bloom, huge rock formations and plenty of waterfalls along the rapidly flowing Elliot Creek, the Lower Elliot really was a wild and scenic trail.
The lower trail along Elliot Creek had led us through a beautiful old-growth forest for its first two miles, then tansformed into second-grow timber about where it rejoined the Upper Elliot, and we had another 1.6 miles to go to reach Goat Lake.
Pretty as the summer sun shone through the alders, this trail started out smooth and level but became increasingly rocky as it gained in elevation.
As our trail led us into the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, the forest made another transition – this time, back to old-growth cedar and moss-covered fir.
The trail led deep into the wilderness and finally an old stream bed full of rocks and rubble, had completely obliterated all signs of the trail, so the map was pulled out.
Looking around, we saw a pink plastic tie on a branch along the edge of that old stream bed, so we walked up that and managed to find the trail again. Before we knew it, we were back on track, and once again in the bright sunshine.
With only a few more streams to ford and a few more hundred feet of elevation to gain, we finally reached the sign for Goat Lake.
With packs off (mine weighed in just under 30 pounds, and Kents, much closer to 40), we picked out our campsite.
Quickly running out of daylight, Kent worked fast to get that new backpacking tent set up.
Packing in ravioli stuffed with butternut squash, they were boiled up with sundried tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil and shredded cheese, so after our camp was set up, we enjoyed a wonderful, gourmet dinner. Because bears find human food so tasty (and convenient), after dinner Kent threw a rope over a branch high up in a tree, attached a pully and secured our food up and out of the reach of any bears.
Located in a cirque surrounded by Sloan, Foggy, and Cadet Peaks, the night sky was crystal clear over Goat Lake, so we walked down to the shore and picking out a few of our favorite constellations, star gazed.
To get to Goat Lake Trail #647 from the Darrington Ranger Station, drive south along the Mountain Loop Highway (FS Road #20) for 22 miles to Elliot Creek Road #4080, turn left and continue to drive 0.8 miles to the trailhead parking lot. A U.S. Forest Service pass is required.