was free for the first day of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Most
of the state had overcast with a chance of thundershowers in many
places. We decided to stay closer to home and head to a lake instead of
a peak. Granite Lakes fit the bill. It was snow free and not as popular
as many close in lakes. It also meant sleeping in and not needing a two
hour drive each way. We met at Eastgate at 7:08 am and headed east. We
reached the trailhead up the MF Snoqualmie Road at about 7:45 am. By
7:50 we were on our way. One car followed us into the lot and another
arrived a few minutes later. Including us, there were 18 cars in the
lot. More than I expected but it was far from full. The forecast was
for partly cloudy in the morning and getting more cloudy as the day
went on. It was totally cloudy.
The trail climbs at a moderate rate. The fairly new trail is wide and
smooth. It makes for easy hiking up to the junction with the old
road/trail that starts near the Mailbox Peak Trail. There is room for
half a dozen cars at that trailhead. It is not relevant most of the
time. At 7:37 am when we passed by all the spots were take. Likely all
by Mailbox hikers. The Mine Creek parking lot is almost exactly 1 mile
from the Mailbox lot and it was already full when we went by. Folks are
walking down a curvy road with about zero room on the side. There are
two spots with benches on the way up to the junction. We stopped to see
if there was any view this day. The low clouds covered the peaks along
the Middle Fork. Salmonberries were about ripe. There were
some other early season wildflowers in bloom in the first section.
We passed and were passed by several groups early and all day. There
were no big groups. We also had plenty of time between hiker sightings.
It was not crowded. It was 1.2 miles to the junction. We started with
long sleeves and long pants. At the junction I went to short sleeves
and zipped off my pants legs It was pretty humid and I was getting
soaked with sweat. I was much more comfortable after that.
Now on the old road.trail we soon picked up Granite Creek. It was down
below in a gorge. There are views of it though it is through all the
trees in the forest. The next landmark is the bridge over Granite
Creek. The creek was flowing strong with lots of whitewater. Our route
was snow free and snow is rapidly melting up high. The many creeks we
crossed farther up were rock hops but much lower than in trip reports
from a week or two earlier. I managed to get up and down with dry feet
in low top hiking shoes.
The trail is on a wide old logging road which has narrowed markedly. It
was still a pretty wide road up to the point that it was decommissioned
abut 10 years ago. Now tall brush lines much of the route. It was still
not hard to get off the trail when hikers passed by. We did see some
columbine in bloom above the bridge. We also started playing leap frog
with Masako. I hope I recall the name correctly. We passed each other
several times on the way to the lake. We reached the junction of the
trails to Granite and Thompson Lakes. We headed right and downhill
towards Granite. We quickly reached the largest stream crossing. It was
abut 20 feet across. A lone of rocks made it possible to hop across
with dry feet. Up to my 2010 trip report the old road ended and then it
was a mossy overgrown track to the upper lake. Now it is a wide trail.
The outlet was flowing high enough to make the rock hop a challenge.
Someone has placed a log that makes the crossing much easier. Then it
is a series of rocks and smaller water crossings to the hiker spots by
the shore near the outlet. Masako had joined us for the last part and
for our lunch break. She is one more person I have met who gets out
hiking nearly every weekend. She has also done most of the PCT. There
were bugs flying around but I did not seem to be bitten even with short
sleeves. We arrived at 10:02 am. It was a little early for lunch so
brunch was taken. The clouds over the lake looked just like my photos
from my last visit in 2018. This tends to be a hike I do on days when
peaks and the high county are in clouds. There were 4 or 5 groups at
the lake. We had some separation form them.
Our break lasted until 10:35 am when we started back. Masako went back
on her own while we took some more photos. For the first time I can
recall, I left home without my camera. That also meant without my
phone. Gary uses his phone camera but also brought along a point and
shoot for any long range telephoto shots. He graciously lent my his
camera. The lake had beargrass in bloom along with yellow violets,
and the first marsh marigolds I have seen this year. On our way back we
detoured to an overlook of Lower Granite Lake. We could hear what
sounded like a waterfall but could not see it on the slopes above.
There were some bleeding hearts right at their peak here. We did not
stay long and headed back to the trail. As we climbed up to the
junction, Gary said we needed to get in a little more elevation gain.
This hike is only 2400'. We decided to turn right and head up the old
road towards The Defiance Trail and Thompson Lake.
Gary thought that 2700' would be a reasonable gain for a weekend hike.
Time was not a concern. We had hiked up the Old Mt. Si Trail just two
days prior and that was 3500' of gain in only 3 miles. We were a bit
tired but the moderate grade made a bit more elevation easy enough.
Well, we overshot just a bit. We were up to 2900' of gain when we
turned around. The extra 500' of gain added .60 miles each way. That
grade is actually pretty steep for a road. We retraced our steps back
to the junction and set in for the last 3.3 miles. Traffic picked up a
bit at first then settled down. We kept seeing people but with
some long breaks in between. We reached the trailhead at 1:42
pm. It was still pretty early.
The humidity picked up as we neared the bottom. It was in the mid 60s.
We had a little pocked of sunshine on the way down but it did not last
very long. It was cloudy at the trailhead. For the day we hiked 9.6
miles with 2900' of gain. We had a relatively short drive for a summer
weekend. I was home by 3:00 pm. This turned out to be a good choice. We
were a bit beat from the steep hike at the heat of the day on Thursday
evening. This trip provided a mostly smooth gently graded trail. Over
nearly 10 miles we did gain 2900' but it was never steep. Mailbox peak
was a madhouse once again. A crowded lot at 7:40 am and cars parked
along the road for quite a distance in the afternoon. By comparison,
our nearby hike was not at all crowded. It never rained though clouds
hung around most all day. It was not too hot either. A fine day for a
hike on the first day of a summer holiday weekend.
Click on thumbnails to get
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Granite Creek Bridge
Road To Trail
Upper Granite Lake
Beargrass At Lake
Gary At Work
Lower Granite Lake
Gary Crossing Creek
Jim On Bridge
Brush Along Trail