Do you like alpine views, walking in the clouds and excellent fly-fishing? If you answered yes, then this is a hike you might want to experience. However, to commit to doing this trip you must agree to the trail’s terms of admission.
Heart attack steep, and a bucket of sweat is what you’ll pay for admission here, but you get what you pay for!
The beginning of the trail starts off as a nice wide meandering trail, but this lasts only a few minutes, it then hurtles you to a nice steep grade for about 2.4 km. There are only a few views along the way, just glimpses of what lies ahead. At about 3.2 km you start to open up into sub-alpine forest and open slopes. Here is where you get your first spectacular views of the valley. You can see the path ahead for about 1km as you tread between Indian paintbrush, alpine daisies, and arctic lupine on the open slopes as you approach the northwest ridge. Walking here elates your mood after having endured a somewhat difficult first 3rd of the trail.
I personally break this trail into 3 parts, the first part being the real “bastard” part, leaving you breathless and wondering about your goal, the 2nd part being the open sub-alpine and alpine slopes of the north-east slopes, and the 3rd part being the north-west ridge and decent into the Flora Lake valley.
Once you reach the 2nd part of the hike you will follow the trail through sub-alpine meadows and forest; sub-alpine fir, butter-cup, and other alpine flower gardens will line your path along this portion of the trail. This is also a good spot to stop and fill your water bottles if you are running low, as there is often run off from the snow pack that lies above. (Be sure to filter or treat all water!)
As you finish the 2nd part of the hike, you make your way through several thick pockets of sub-alpine forest, the trail here can be obscure and disorienting here if there is snow or fog, (which is very common). If there is snow or fog you can stay to the high east side of the slopes on your right, as they will take you around a small bowl and lead you to the north west ridge.
This is the beginning of the 3rd and final stretch of the hike. Here you will want to break out your camera and listen as the clouds whisk by you in an eerie silent loom of mystery. It’s ethereal; of course if it’s sunny, you will have panoramic views of the North Cascades, International Boundary, and the Cheam Range. This is also a great place to have a break and run up a couple of the small peaks in the area too.
As you follow the trail out of the bowl and over the lip of the ridge you immediately descend into forest and the meager trail to the lake. This portion can be hiked in about 30-40 minutes if you are steady and there is no snow. The forest is much thicker with larger trees and more vegetation as the weather systems drop more precipitation here.
Once completed, you will find yourself at a small camp at the edge of the lake. There is room here for a couple tents, be sure to note the stream path that separates the two tenting sites, this fills with water almost immediately when it rains!
The lake itself is settled high in a u-shaped valley, with steep slopes on all sides. It is possible to go around the entire lake to fish, but it’s about the same result everywhere so why not relax and fish by your camp??
When fishing here be very delicate and try to practice “catch and release” ethics, this is a wild fishery. Fly-fishing is the preferred method, using a dry fly such as mosquito or coachman patterns work well.
To find your way back to the car you can retrace your steps or follow a trail out towards Greendrop lake trail. If you choose the latter, I recommend a map and compass as the last time I hiked this section of the trail the cairns were missing and a snow slide had removed some of the flagging to mark the trail.
|Time Required (return)
||an excellent day hike or overnight backpack during late spring / early summer.