Ranking: 3/5 The lakes here are truly beautiful, especially Jade Lake, but they are not the best the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area has to offer, as the edges of Opal and Emerald Lake were shallow, and marshy, tinged with bright orange from high iron content, making for colorful pictures, just not as appealing for drinking/dunking, and there seemed to be few campsites available. Of course, as most of the area was buried under snow, we might have missed them. We saw fish jump at Jade Lake, but not at Opal. For climbers and peak baggers, there are more options than exploring this small lake filled valley, with nearby Mt. Hinman and Daniel.
Difficulty: 7/10 The first 5.5 miles are easy, as the trail is relatively flat and well maintained as it follows the East Fork Foss River valley. Once it starts climbing, however, its a whole different ball game, as the trail becomes steep, clambering over roots, rocks, and boulders, poorly maintained the higher up you go… Lots of blowdown, and the jumbled manner of the trail in places creates lots of high stepping, and fending off grabby shrubs and brush in places. Still, this may attribute to why we saw it so sparsely populated only adding to its charm. That, and perhaps for the fact that this early in the season, the snow and hungry bear may have warded off most…
Getting there: Take I-5 north to Everett, and turn right onto exit 194, which merges shortly onto US-2E/Stevens Pass Hwy towards Snohomish/Wenatchee. Travel on Hwy 2E for 50.5 miles, and turn right onto Foss River Rd, (FS Rd#68), and go 4.1 miles to the trailhead and small parking lot on the left, for Necklace Valley trail #1062. You will know that you are close to the turn-off as you will pass the town of Skykomish, then shortly after the town, you will pass the Skykomish Ranger station on the left. Foss River Rd will be your next right, about ½ mile.
Permits: You will need a Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead, and you will need to self register. For more information on this hike, and others in the region, look at the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website. For this hike, click on US highway 2 link, and then the Necklace Valley trail #1062.
Maps: We continue to use the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Map, put out by ALPS. Also, you can use the Green Trails map #175 and #176, or MyTopo, and have them print out tear resistant/waterproof maps tailored to this hike.
Necklace Valley GPS Added 11/15/2012
After a winter that dumped lots of snow, and one of the coldest springs on record, we finally get a chance to venture into the backcountry, knowing full well, of course, that we will be running into snow at lower than normal elevations, so for our first outing this year, we pick the hike that has the lowest elevation, hoping for the best. This hike, as we would find out, would become our most eventful hike yet, with probably a bit more excitement than we had planned on, so, stick with me as I ramble through the description of what transpired.
“…and if you’re plagued by hunger, be sure to stop by for the cure…”
We want an early start in the morning, so we decide to drive to the town of Skykomish to spend the night at the Cascadia Inn, a quaint hotel in town, near the rail road tracks. Across the street, actually. They are still doing their work to remove the contaminated soil from the ground, but the town is no longer up on blocks, all the buildings appear to have been put back in place, and they were in the process of pouring concrete for the new sidewalks. We have a great dinner here at the inn, and if you ever are in the area, and you’re plagued by hunger, be sure to stop by for the cure.
We’ve eaten there several times now, and have never been disappointed. After dinner, we turn in, and…I’m reminded of the time we spent the night near the tracks at Money Creek, just down the road from town. The train seems to run on the hour, and as it comes into town, even at 3:00am, the engineer revels in blasting the horn, in fact, I’m sure if there’s a volume switch on the blasted thing, he’s got it cranked up to 11, cause 10 just won’t do…Needless to say, sleep was fleeting, in between the raucous blasts. Perhaps if we had kept the window closed, it wouldn’t have been so bad? Still, the people that run the Inn are pleasant, and they do their best to keep you happy.