Granite Lakes

Gary 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, heather, bunchberries, 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.

Big Snag
Foam Flower
No Views Today
Colorful Bush
Granite Creek Bridge
Road To Trail
Marsh Marigolds
Multiple Blooms
Upper Granite Lake
Beargrass At Lake
Gary At Work
Outlet Creek
Lower Granite Lake
Bleeding Hearts
Gary Crossing Creek
Mossy Rocks
Break Time
Jim On Bridge
Rushing Creek
Brush Along Trail
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2022