West Fork Foss Lakes Trail #1064

Sunrise at Copper Lake

Sunrise at Copper Lake

The West Fork Foss Lakes trail has long been one of my favorites.

I remember coming to Trout Lake with my “Uncle Bones” when I was just a kid, and then as now, the trail still wows me with every step.

THE NUMBERS

Trout Lake

Trout Lake

Elevation gain: 3300’±

Mileage: 14.6mi RT±

Difficulty: YDS 2 , be in reasonable shape

Free loading birds in your backpack the minute you turn around: n=n1 x n2/m2 x f(t²)

THE HIKING

Your journey starts out easily enough, gradually gaining elevation along the Foss River and it’s mostly dry flood channels.

Keep an eye out to your right for Shoestring Falls, descending into the Foss on it’s west bank.

The West Fork Foss River

The West Fork Foss River

About a mile in you’ll come to a very well built bridge which, if it’s secretly anthropomorphic, is likely counting the days until the next major flooding event, the likes of which destroyed it’s predecessor.

Counting the days...

Counting the days…

Standing on the bridge, you are a little less than a mile down trail from Trout Lake.

Along the remainder of the way there are a couple of points of interest;

One is an absolutely monstrous tree (can’t miss it). If you hike this trail with friends I can guarantee we’ll have one thing in common; a picture of someone standing in front of this tree.

Standard tree photo

Standard tree photo

The other is marked by a rusted 2-½in pipe crossing the trail. Without going into too much detail; above this pipe, blasted into the flanks of Malachite Peak is the 772′ long Imperial #2 tunnel, and the 112′ Vine Maple Prospect.

Below the pipe, along the banks of the Foss River, is the site of the old Imperial Power Plant. Not much remains, but the occasional rusted metal relic can sometimes be found.

Leavin' the lake

Leavin’ the lake

At Trout Lake take a breather, cast a line or stay the night at one of it’s campsites.

The trail begins to climb significantly after passing the west shore of the lake, almost 2000′ in less than two miles!

Silver Eagle Peak dominates the eastern horizon as you switchback up through mixed forest and shrub. At one point you’ll pass a corner with easy access to a slabby watercourse, great for dipping your head into and refilling empty water bottles.

Get used to seeing this guy

Get used to seeing this guy

Malachite Falls becomes visible as you gain elevation, it’ll be filling your ears with it’s 618′ of waterfally-ness before you can see it.

You’ll continue to gain elevation, eventually surpassing the waterfall and coming to an intersection with the Lake Malachite trail.

NOTE: You may also notice a sign near here that says “Campfires prohibited beyond this point” This means ALL points along this trail beyond this sign (Specifically any point above 4000′)

You can't "unsee" it

You can’t “unsee” it

Lake Malachite is only a short, sorta steep hike from here, offering great views, a few campsites, and fishing.

Malachite

Lake Malachite

Less than half a mile from the intersection you’ll cross a fairytale-esque bridge of perfectly placed boulders before setting eyes upon beautiful Copper Lake.

The popular campsites fill up quick, but the lake is spacious enough to allow some breathing room if that’s what you are looking for.

Like Alice and the beanstalk or somethin'

Straight outta Alice and the Beanstalk

If Copper Lake isn’t your thing, the trail continues along it’s eastern shore towards Little Heart Lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not a whole lot jumps out at you on this section of trail, but you will pass over the tailings pile of a mining prospect at the south end of the lake, and there are a couple of established campsites along the way.

Little Heart Lake seems a little less hospitable by comparison, it’s smaller, and seems crammed into the surrounding rock. Upon first glance, shoreline access also seems extremely limited.

Exploring around however reveals some established campsites, and ample talus shoreline if you are a little more adventurous.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Leaving Little Heart Lake, the trail again begins to climb, gaining a little under 1000ft in a mile, then losing a few hundred feet on the way to Big Heart Lake.

Little Heart Lake

Little Heart Lake

The views through here become more dramatic.

Looking back you’ll see Trout Lake (perhaps bringing back memories of when your legs were not on fire) Delta Lake is down below, Otter Lake peeks at you from across the valley, and then finally Big Heart Lake, shimmering at you through the trees.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first time you approach Big Heart Lake is likely to stick with you for the rest of your life…

You walk in on top of a little ridge that parallels a small arm of the lake. The water is deep, and bluer than anything you’ve yet seen, not unlike that mysterious fluid barber’s put their combs in.

Morning mist on Big Heart

Morning mist on Big Heart

Here the official trail ends, there are a few campsites available in the immediate area, and a couple more hidden about.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the ambitious hiker, this may only be the base camp, for there are numerous boot paths leading to many destinations: Angeline and Azurite Lakes, Camp Robber Peak, Chetwoot Lake, you could even make it a loop back down the Necklace Valley.

Beyond the official trail...

Beyond the official trail…

The West Fork Foss river trail is your oyster.

Bearing that in mind, leave your oyster better than you found it; pack it in, pack it out, leave no trace, take only pictures, leave only footprints, I’m sure you know them all.

Basically; Don’t be “that guy”.

Happy trails!

THE GETTING THERE

Firstly, I’d suggest driving to Skykomish to procure a pre-hike sandwich, or some campin’ booze at the ever friendly and delicious Sky Deli.

After filling up at Skykomish, head east on the “2” and you’ll pass the Skykomish Ranger Station, keep your eyes peeled for the Foss River Road branching south (right) from the highway. Take it.

Might be wantin' one of these...

Might be wantin’ one of these…

A little over a mile in you’ll pass beneath a gargantuan railroad trestle, and then hit a fork. Stay right.

You’ll pass the Necklace Valley trailhead on your left in another half mile, and a half mile past that is your left turn for the West Fork Foss River Trail#1064. The turn is signed, but can be missed.

nwtrailpass

Two miles from the intersection and you’ll be there.

The trailhead has ample parking and a pit toilet, but on summer weekends, try and come early because this is a popular trail, and is steadily gaining in popularity with every new Ballard condo.

THE REQUIRED DOCUMENTS

Currently a NW trailpass or other qualifying document (America the beautiful interagency pass) is required at the trailhead.

Big Heart Lake

Big Heart Lake

References:

In addition to provided links,

Woodhouse, Phil; Jacobson, Daryl; Petersen, Bill; Cady,Greg; Pisoni, Victor, Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.1: The West Central Cascade Mountains. Oso Publishing Company, 1997

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

3 responses to “West Fork Foss Lakes Trail #1064

  1. Pingback: Little Heart Lake 4204′ | harrybipedhiking·

  2. Pingback: Copper Lake 3961′ | harrybipedhiking·

  3. Beautiful beautiful! Your photos are lovely – you should put them on your posts in larger format for everyone to enjoy! I almost missed out the the spectacular views of Lake Malachite:) Coming from the far north in Norway I find the concept of trailpass a bit curious, it is the same thing for some hikes around here. I am used to just packing my stuff and hike/camp where ever I like:) Btw – Little Heart Lake looks like a gem! Stunning:)

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s