Ranking: 4/5 This place deserves high marks for it’s rugged beauty, and assortment of things to see. More waterfalls than one could count, lakes, streams, glaciers, and the iconic namesake of this wilderness, Glacier Peak. Add to that the other world charm of Larch trees that turn gold during the fall, highlighting the upper Lyman Lakes basin, and you have a place truly spectacular.
Difficulty: 6/10 Well maintained trails help to keep this area accessible, but they in no part diminish the ruggedness of the terrain they traverse, or the mileage that one will have to travel, to get to the wilderness’s most remote places.
Take exit 85 for State Hwy 970 N, and turn left, across the freeway.
Turn right, to follow WA-970, this bypasses the town of Cle Elum.
After the Slight right to stay on WA-970, go another 9.7 miles
Slight left at WA-97.
Continue on US-97, for 35.3 miles.
At the light, you will be at the junction for US-2/US-97, turn right, and follow US-2/US-97N for 14.1 miles
Merge onto US-2/US-97N via ramp to Okanogan/ Spokane and go for 1 mile.
Take the US 97-ALT N exit towards Entiat/Chelan, then merge onto the Euclid Ave/US-97-ALT, and follow US-97-ALT for 33.2 miles to Lady of the Lake Boat dock. For Reservations, and times, check the Lady of the Lake Website.
To reserve a spot on the bus that takes you from the docks at Lucerne, to the village at Holden, Check out their website, Holden Village, for more information. There is no phone, so the only way of contacting them is through e-mail.
Maps: We made our own map using MyTopo Software, and printed out our own map as this was a difficult hike to map, as it covered three different Green Trails Maps, Glacier Peak, WA #112, Holden, WA #113, and Lucerne, WA #114. You can either use the 3 maps listed, or go to a kiosk that prints out MyTopo, ( REI has one), or go online, to http://www.mytopo.com/, to order your own specific map.
Permits: Here again, we got kind of crossed up, expecting some kind of self register at the trailhead. There wasn’t any. Check in with the Ranger Station at Lake Chelan, the day before you go. http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/passes/wilderness/
Lyman Lakes, Miners Ridge GPS Added 11/15/2012
The day has finally arrived, when we leave for Lake Chelan. We’ve kept our eye on the current reports for the area, as there has been all manner of weather related problems. Forest fires nearby at Stehekin, and the surrounding area, and constant thunder storms causing lightning strikes and flash floods. In fact, we find out as we get closer, one of these flash floods has caused road damage to highway 97A, forcing a detour around on 97, the opposite side of the mighty Columbia river.
This will be a 4 day trip into the Glacier Peak Wilderness, and to get there, will require travel by car, ferry, and bus. Dan Ritola joins us on this adventure, and after packing backpacks, and overnight essentials, we travel to our first stop at Lake Chelan State Park. Right as we turn into the park, there is a sign that says that they’re full. What?!! On a Wednesday? You’ve got to be kidding! All of the tent sites are first come, first serve, and there are so many, that I was sure we’d have no problem getting a site, on a Wednesday! Surely, this only meant the reserve sites…
We pull up to the check in station, and ask if they have any sites available for walk ups, and she said that they were full, because of a fire near the 25 mile creek campground further up the lake, which created an evacuation, and everyone came here from that campground…Aaargh! I told her our plight, and she looked again, and said that maybe one of the sites had not been filled yet, so we scurried over to look.
…and before she could say anything more, I whipped out the plastic and laid it on her. “We’ll take it!!!”
Appears that site was full, and so I pleaded and begged…Are you sure you don’t have anything? What are we to do??? She looked again, slapped her forehead, and said, “Oh, yes, here’s one at site 38. Would you…” and before she could say anything more, I whipped out the plastic and laid it on her. “We’ll take it!!!” Relieved to get a site, we drive over to the spot, and..Wouldn’t you know it? The only place left at the inn, was a site that Greg and I had camped at our last time we came to the lake…I couldn’t believe it. We dump our gear, (it practically jumped out of the back of the stuffed to the rim Exterra), and we set camp, then drove to Lake Chelan for dinner. After a hearty meal, we found our way back to the campsite, after a quick detour for firewood, and soft ice cream cones…
2350ft gain/246 loss 8.3 miles. To start this long journey, we have to ride the ferry to Lucerne, the drop off point for Holden Village, which is where our trail head begins. So, at 8:30am, we board the Lady of the Lake II, the slow boat up lake to Lucerne. It chugs along at a brisk pace of about 11 miles an hour, and takes appx. 3.5 hours to arrive at our destination, under skies that are thick and hazy, from all the smoke created from the fires raging in BC.
Along the way, it stops a couple of times for new passengers to board, at Fields point, and at Prince Creek to drop off a couple of backpackers via gangplank, so they can hike the rest of the way to Stehekin via the Lakeshore trail. We arrive at the dock around 12:00, and from here, we catch the bus, (an old yellow school bus named “Pookie”, since retired from ferrying kids to school, and now employed lugging visitors back and forth to Holden), and start the steep switchback uphill towards Holden Village. It’s a gravel road that’s well maintained, but with hairpin corners that give you a bird’s eye view to the ravines below.
…and we’ve designated Greg as our surrogate “huggee”, although he seems rather
reluctant to do so…Sidestepping the hug fest, we grab our gear and hit the trail…
This takes about 35 to 45 minutes, and then you finally arrive at Holden. As you pull up to the stop, you are warmly greeted by most of the inhabitants of the village, all clapping in unison, and cheering. Some people are even greeted with hugs as they leave the bus, and we’ve designated Greg as our surrogate “huggee”, although he seems rather reluctant to do so…Sidestepping the hug fest, we grab our gear and hit the trail, glad to finally be putting boot to trail.
…the fact that some furry creature has helped himself to his snack, Dan begins plotting the death of all the local chipmunks and squirrels…
Of course, no trip would begin complete, if it were not for some gear malfunction. It appears that Dan’s pack has sprung a leak. Or, rather a leak has been sprung by a rodent of some sort; the malcontent has chewed through the bottom of his pack to get at his trail mix! After pointing this out to Dan, and the fact that some furry creature has helped himself to his snack, Dan begins plotting the death of all the local chipmunks and squirrels. They seem to instinctively know this, for they avoid him like the plague.
As we head towards the trail head at the end of the road, he leaves a trail of nuts and raisins that he no longer has an appetite for, like the pied piper of Holden… The gravel road leads you past the old township of Winston, the only remains are rock walls and concreted steps that must have led up to the homes, and a placard, with a brief history of the place. Looks as if at one time there were about 100 homes here, to house the miners and their families that worked in the copper mines at Holden, its original purpose of existence. In the hills above Holden, you can still see the old mine and the orange tailings piled high among the trees.
As the trail begins, it stays relatively flat and wide, through trees that occasionally break to allow you views of the mountains that surround this creek basin. The trail follows Railroad creek all the way to Lyman Lake, as the terrain here is steep and rocky. The trail is well maintained, and easy to hike as it’s a moderate uphill most of the way to Hart Lake, the site that we had planned on spending our first night. Near the 3.5 mile mark, the trail decides it’s time to climb up out of Railroad creek, and as it does so, it begins to clear the brush and small trees that line this part of the trail.
…it is a recipe that is repeated over and over, as melt coming out of high glaciers flows down the steep granite walls that hem you in on both sides of the trail…
Ahead, you can see a ridge that forms a headwall between two mountains, Bonanza Peak and Dumbell Mt., which creates a natural dam that holds back the waters of Harts Lake. This creates a dramatic waterfall as the outlet for the lake rushes over the ridge, cascading over the granite. Once over the ridge, you can look down upon Hart Lake, formed here at the pinch point created by the ridge. In the distance, feeding this lake is beautiful Crown Point Falls, leapfrogging down rolling granite walls. It creates a spectacular scene, and from this lake on, it is a recipe that is repeated over and over, as melt coming out of high glaciers flows down the steep granite walls that hem you in on both sides of the trail. In fact, there are so many waterfalls, that I could not count them all.
As we reach the banks of Hart’s lake, we look for the few established campsites here, and it looks as if the only one that is unoccupied is unappealing, so we move on. I had noted on the maps that there is supposed to be another camp further on called Rebel camp, and we decide to make that our destination, as it’s only another .6 miles. After crossing Railroad Creek, that feeds Hart Lake, (sometimes in a torrent, as evident by the massive piles of stones washed downstream, obliterating the trail and foliage in a wide swath), we reach a clearing, where we get awesome views of the many long waterfalls streaming out of the Isella Glacier that hugs the sides of Bonanza Peak.
One path simply wasn’t enough, and the water has found at least 3 different ways down the sides here, creating a water slide show. Once at Rebel Camp, we are amazed to find it’s only 4:00pm, and Greg suggests that we press on to Lyman Lakes, especially if it’s only another 2 miles or so, and that will make tomorrow’s hike to Image lake shorter, allowing us more time to explore Miner’s Ridge, and the Fire lookout. It seems a great idea, even though we will have to climb another 1500 ft of elevation today…That, and the fact that the biting black flies here are relentless, seals the decision to press on.
From each of these prominent features, water is running downhill, as if the very mountains were melting…
From Rebel Camp, looking north to the slopes, we again see water flowing in bounding waterfalls. Simply amazing. There is no shortage of water along this hike. As we near Crown Point Falls, the dominant falls and source of background noise here, you can look to the right and see North Star Mt, and to our left, the jagged peaks of Dumbell Mt. From each of these prominent features, water is running downhill, as if the very mountains were melting. It sets a beautiful stage, with the peaks, jagged granite skylines, rushing water, and curtains of forest green set to the background music of rushing waters. Truly inspiring!
…and we all do the deranged looking dance of swat, sweep, and flail at the air, looking all as mad as hatters…
We reach the switchbacks, and the steep begins in earnest. After another 1.7 miles of constant, relentless uphill, we reach the flat right before Lyman Lakes. Then, it’s a short jaunt through alpine meadows, to our camp, right across from the trail junction to Upper Lyman Lakes. Relieved to finally be here, and to have the switchbacks behind us, we drop our packs and make camp. It’s not long, and we realize the mosquitoes and biting flies are no better here, and they pelt and bombard us. It’s as if we’re being peppered with a shotgun filled with small projectiles, they try to enter our eyes, mouth, nose, and ears, and we all do the deranged looking dance of swat, sweep, and flail at the air, looking all as mad as hatters…
…it’s soon hard to form sentences that don’t sound like gibberish. “dosh yur lppps fllll nuuumm??”
Dousing ourselves in bug spray helps for a while, until we notice an odd side effect. Wiping our lips with the backs of hands soaked in repellant, it’s soon hard to form sentences that don’t sound like gibberish. “dosh yur lppps fllll nuuumm??” It was like getting a shot of novacaine, and botox at the same time, felt like our lips were numb, and swollen!!! Made for some interesting conversations, let me tell you…Dinner was awesome, once again! Greg brought the first night’s dinner, and we had Chicken with rice, Green beans from backpacker’s pantry, that tasted amazingly fresh!, and bread sticks. Yum! That, and straight from the cooler, (a snow bank that still lingered) nice cold Reese’s peanut butter cups for dessert. A very satisfying meal. Before long, it was time to crash, and, tired out; we drifted off to sleep, re-charging for the next day’s trip.