Ranking: 3/5 A good weekend trek to 2 different locations, both with spectacular views on clear days. It’s nice to be able to base camp at Twin Lakes on this one, and have a nice camp to come back to at the end of the day. The trails are in good shape, and easy to follow, and a lot of the trails especially on the way up to Mt. Larrabee are out in the open, with great sight lines to the surrounding peaks, and as a side trip, you can hike up to the Winchester Mt. Lookout.
Difficulty: 6/10 The road in to Twin Lakes, which you will use as a base camp for this hike, is a little rough towards the end, with lots of chuck holes and washouts, high clearance vehicles recommended..The trails for the most part are in good shape, especially the trails out of Twin Lakes up to the Winchester Mt. Lookout, a busy trail on weekends. Experienced climbers only would be my suggestion for climbing to the peak of Mt. Larrabee, as the rock is loose, making for treacherous climbing. There is also some confusion on the trails that lead to the top of Yellow Aster Butte, which is not clearly marked…
Getting there:From Glacier, WA travel east on Mt. Baker Highway SR 542 for Twelve miles. Turn left on Twin Lakes Road #3065. The road is located at the east end of the Department of Transportation’s Shuksan maintenance facility. After 4.5 miles, reach the Tomyhoi Lake/Yellow Aster Butte Trailhead. The road beyond this point is narrow, with few pullouts, and is not maintained for passenger vehicles. During summer there may be mining truck traffic traveling on the road. High clearance vehicles can negotiate the remaining two miles to Twin Lakes. Four-wheel drive is not necessary, but helpful. Check with the ranger station for road conditions before heading out. The trailhead is located 6.5 miles from the highway between the two lakes.
Permits: 5$ per car per day, or a Northwest Forest Pass or equivalent to park at the trailhead.
Maps: Green Trails map, Mt. Shuksan #114,USGS: Mount Larrabee, or USFS: Mt. Baker Ranger District and Mt. Baker Wilderness.
Mt. Larrabee, Winchester Mt. GPS Data pending
Another year, another season starts with promise. Dan, Greg, and I start the season with a hike that we can base camp from, taking some weight off our backs. So far, it’s been a historically hot beginning to summer, and once again the temps here at home this weekend are supposed to climb into the 90’s. Too blamed hot for me. So, it’s a welcome relief to know we’re headed into the north Cascades where it should be at least 10 degrees cooler above 5000ft. It takes us 4 hours to drive from Puyallup to our cut-off just outside Glacier, on FSRD 3065, a narrow one lane gravel road that leads appx 6.5 miles to its terminus at Twin Lakes.
The first 4.5 miles aren’t too bad, a normal car can make the journey, and there are regular turn-outs to let another car by. Its slow going as the road is pretty bumpy all the way to the Yellow Aster Butte turn-out. At this point, there are several wide spots in the road to allow for parking, and there’s a pit toilet here as well.
Beyond this point the road becomes noticeably narrower, fewer turn-outs, and considerably worse in condition. There are several large berms created by small streams that crossed the road during spring run-off (now dry) and lots of chuck holes and exposed large rocks that will test your suspension. Higher clearance vehicles definitely recommended beyond here.
Once we reached the lake basin, we were pleasantly surprised by the ample parking and the nice pit toilet, although you will be sure to want to bring your own TP.
We found a nice campsite with a table and fire pit (although there was a burn ban because of the extreme dry spell we were gripped in) and set up camp on the dividing section of land between the two lakes. This gave us some time wander around, take some pictures, and scout the area for things of interest. One thing that we noticed was a nice sandy beach at the east shore of the lake to the right, it looked like a great place to take a dip tomorrow to wash off trail grime…
We were also amazed to see just how many people were camping here. By Friday night, it appeared the place was full, and there were close to 50 cars parked. This is definitely a popular place, and the jaunty road here doesn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits about getting here. Might want to get here early for a good spot, if this is a destination you plan on making…
After dinner, we sat up to watch the stars overhead, occasionally interrupted by a meteor streaking through the night sky, as well as slow moving satellites, and the ISS, the brightest thing in the sky.