Ashland Lakes

In 2012 Kim and I hiked past Ashland Lakes and onto Twin Falls Lake. A sunny summer day to enjoy the trail, lakes, and big trees. Kim wanted to return and I joined in. After months of no snow it finally snowed last week. Not a lot but it was down to around 2500' The trailhead is at about 2500'.  We headed up the Mountain Loop Highway turning onto dirt roads a few miles past the Lake 22 trailhead. The road is bumpy but not too bad. The last steep climb had a little snow on it. The parking lot had a thin layer of snow. There was one vehicle in the parking lot when we arrived at about 10:05 am. We were packed up and on the trail at about 10:20 am.

The route starts on an old road. There was a little snow on it. On the sides are small meadows that had skunk cabbage. Much of it was partly covered by the new snow. It was cold but not windy. The route starts pretty flat and it is hard to warm up. Soon enough we left the old clear cut for forest. The board walks began almost immediately. Much of the rest of our route was on narrow raised boards. Much of it was covered with snow and packed snow/ice. It was slick enough to require more of a "shuffle" than normal walking. We managed to stay on our feet though I had many near falls. The boards are slick when wet and even slicker when icy.

The big trees began soon after entering the forest. We recalled one very large tree s short way off the trail. At 1.7 miles we reached the junction with the short side trail to Beaver Plant Lake. It was sunny out of the forest
by the shore. Another couple were at the lake. We saw a few groups during the day but it was never at all crowded. We were in no hurry this day. Lots of time to stop for photos and just hang around the lakes. As usual, Kim found lots of macro things to photograph. We saw more skunk cabbage at the lake and in fact nearly everywhere along the trail.

We left Beaver Plant and went back to the junction. A little farther along we reached the high point of the day near 3000'. The junction with the trail to Bald Mountain is still clearly signed. Unfortunately, that trail has not been cleared in many years. I have heard horror stories of trying to hike it. Perhaps some day... From the high point the route drops gently down to Upper Ashland Lake. More sliding on the board walk and we reached the lakeshore. There is a wooden pad on the shore where another couple were having lunch. We found a dry campsite on the trail near the lake for lunch. Some dark clouds were coming in but it was still sunny for now.

It was cold but very nice sitting in the sun by the lake with a little fresh snow. After lunch we headed down to the lower lake. It is not much farther.  Many of the campsites were wet though a few were dry enough. On my first visits to the lakes a number of years ago I blasted along to Twin Falls Lake. The benefit of slowing down is that I now saw all the big trees in the forest. This area is now in the Morningstar Conservation Area. These trees will not be logged. It is one of the easiest old growth forests to get to from Puget Sound cities. This day we had lots of time to take it all in.

The lower lake boardwalk goes right to the outlet and across a high wooden bridge (no hand rails). It was slick too. We did climb up to get shots down the lake. The trail to Twin Falls Lake is not maintained. There is a bridge broken in half near the lake. It requires some scrambling to get down and back up again. For these reasons it is not recommended to be hiked. We did go a short way along to see more big trees. Some real monsters above and below the creek. These are not record sized one of a kind trees. Just average old growth. Some are just big dead snags. Others are still growing. Neat to see in either case.

It was 3:20 pm when we left the lower lake. Most everyone else had already headed back. It was a lonesome hike out. Clouds were now filling in and it was a chillier hike (shuffle) along the boardwalks. We were still not in any hurry and it was about 5:30 pm when we returned to the trailhead. Most of the snow in the lot had melted during the day. This was not a long hike at about 6 miles with only 900' of elevation gain. It was enjoyable. We had lots of skunk cabbage. Some of the first fresh snow in many weeks. We also saw some huckleberry berries forming just as the leaves were unfurling. Not quite spring but not winter either. This trail is full of hikers and backpackers in the summer but it was quiet this day.

Pay Station
Skunk Cabbage & Snow
More Skunk Cabbage
Snow On Trail
Snowy Bridge
Snowy Boardwalk
Kim & Big Tree
Yoga Pose
Yoga Pose Fail!
Beaver Plant Lake
Red Plant
Icy Boardwalk
Another Big Tree
Mossy Trail
Trail Junction
Bog Lanterns
Lake Reflection
Upper Ashland Lake
From Outlet
Outlet Bridge
Very Big Tree
High In The Sky
Trees With Scale
Upper Lake Again
Nice Reflection
Shades Of Green
Melted Snow
Bridge Is Still Slick
Kim Stands Along The Shore Of Beaver Plant Lake
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2015