Anderson Butte & Watson Lakes

Bob and Kolleen were free for a day hike. We came up with a trip that none of us had done. Watson Lakes are just east of Baker Lake and south of Mt. Shuksan. We snowshoed up to Park Butte lookout to the west on March 6th on a beautiful clear winter day. Now we had a beautiful clear very hot day. Just like the day before at Summit Lake this trail begins high at 4300'. We met in south Everett at 7:00 am and it still took until 9:20 to reach the trailhead. The 11 miles of dirt road after crossing the dam took a lot of the time. This is not a heavily reported hike and I was surprised to see about 20 cars in the lot. A small portable sign provided the reason for some of the crowd. There was a Washington Trails Association crew at work up the trail.

Our goal was to climb up to Anderson Butte first while it was still only moderately hot and we had good morning light. After that we would head over to Watson Lakes and maybe Anderson Lake. The trail splits at only .8 miles. Left heads steeply uphill to the butte. This trail is less well maintained but still easy hiking. At the ridge top we found some snow and the other side still has quite a bit of snow. Nice views immediately and they only get better along the ridge to the old lookout site.

There are a few short snow patches but for the most part it is all dirt to the top. Really spectacular views from the top. Baker and Shuksan dominate to the north. Mt. Watson and other snowy peaks are to the southeast. Many more peaks off to the east. Only 1 1/2 miles with 1050' of gain to this great viewpoint. After a round of photos we headed back down.  We passed the WTA work party in the first half mile and saw one of them back at the junction. The next section of trail is up an open meadow and part of it is still under snow. Not enough to cause any problems.

We crested the slope and dropped to cross a meadow on a long boardwalk. At the end of the meadow is the junction. Right to Anderson Lake and left to Watson Lakes. We chose to go left. The trail drops down in a series of switchbacks to Upper Watson Lake. Along the way is an open view down to both lakes. There is still snow on the far side of the lake. The trail along the lake is easy walking though a little muddy. We could see the ridge across the lake as it ascended from the end of the lower lake. Bob and Kolleen thought it would be a nice scramble.

At the end of the lake we crossed the outlet and climbed a little before dropping to the lower lake. Big snowy peaks sat over the far end of the lake. A really beautiful view. Lots of heather in bloom between the lakes. Easy log hopping took us across the outlet to the lower lake. We met a number of hikers and fishermen at the Watsons. A short climb brought us to a viewpoint right above the lake. It was getting very hot now as we sat down to lunch.

What to do? Head down the lake and see about getting onto the ridge across the lakes? Head back and then drop to Anderson Lake? We chose to head down to the end of the lake and see what the ridge route looked like. We figured it would be like hiking along the first lake. Nope. It was much more difficult. The route gained and lost 400' along the lake. Many short steep climbs followed by steep descents. None were all that hard but in the heat of the day it was not a lot of fun.

At long last we reached the end of the lake. One trail dropped to near the lake edge and the other remained high. We followed both. Neither went very far. That nice grassy ridge we saw from the other end of the lake was now some grass and a number of large rock points. Definitely not easy climbing. Our ambition waned fast. We did get some nice photos so the effort was not totally without benefit. Sweat was pouring off me as we climbed up and down along the lake once again.

An easy walk brought us to the first lake and now we just had 700' to climb back to the high point. It was slow and steady for me. At least we had snow at the top to help cool off. It's only about 2.3 miles to the first lake so it was not really all that tough to hike out. On the way down we even met a group of backcountry skiers hiking in. Back at the parking lot the WTA volunteers were packing up to head home.

This proved to be a very nice place to be on a hot summer day. A nice peak with views of the peaks of the North Cascades and two very beautiful lakes. I can see why this would be a very popular place. Minimal effort for maximum enjoyment. If you like starting high, having great views and cold clear lakes this is a fine place to visit.

Bob & Kolleen have posted their report at:  NWHikers Report & Photos

20 Cars In The Morning
Trail Junction
Marsh Marigold
Butte Trail
First Peak View
Snow On Ridge
Mt. Shuksan
Widget Peak
Mt. Baker Summit
Mt. Baker
Mt. Shuksan Summit
Mt. Watson?
More Summit Views
Last Peak View
Snow Below Ridge
Steps On Trail
Wilderness Sign
Watson Lakes
Reflection In First Lake
Creek & Heather
Second Lake
Watson Ice Cave
Far End Of Lake
Looking Back To Pass
Turn Around Spot
Framed Shuksan
Lakes View Again
Last Baker View
Happy WTA Volunteers
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2010