Lake Lillian, Mt. Baker National Forest-Snoqualmie Trip Report
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September 1, 2003
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Driving Directions: From Seattle drive east on I-90 to Exit 54/Hyak/Gold Creek. Turn left (north) under the freeway and right on the frontage road signed Gold Creek. At about four miles, turn left on Forest Service Road 4934. Park less than one-half mile down the road and then walk to the gated road and the trailhead on the left.
Trail Notes: The first part of this hike say the first 40-60 minutes depending on your pace is through second growth forest which is about 10-15 years old. This part of the trail, especially during this time of the year can be quite warm during the days sun. Just keep that in mind, personally I didn't have a problem with it, but Carl was quite affected by it. At any rate on the up side this part of the hike offers the chance to see some very nice wild flowers that clearings of this type offer.
Once you have made your way to the trees the whole personality of the trail changes. The first thing I noticed was the cool temperatures offered by the trees. That and the undergrowth changed radically as you would expect. The trail meanders up the rest of the slope towards a saddle. I say meanders because the grade of the slope is quite benign though it is quite enjoyable. After about 20-30 minutes you arrive at a spur which takes you to Lake Margaret. Being particularly interested in Lake Lillian I opted for that and coupled with the relatively flat nature of the trail the vote was affirmed. Little did Carl know what was to come, but I am getting ahead of myself.
From the fork to Lake Margaret the trail continues along quite pleasantly for about 30-40 minutes along very level traverse below Mt. Margaret. During this time I did keep and eye out for a spur leading up Mt. Margaret but did not notice one. Along the traverse there are several spots offering very nice views to the West overlooking Snoqualmie Pass.
Eventually the trail begins to descend to the North East. As it does so it is possible to spy Lake Lillian off in the distance tucked into the hillside. As the trail continues to loose elevation the growth gets more deciduous and the air more humid. At the bottom of the slope are the twin lakes though they aren't very big. The first of the lakes is particularly small and the second probably not much more than a couple feet deep, though it did offer an excellent time to take some pictures and enjoy the scenery.
The trail continues on now in this valley as it were for about another 10-20 minutes where the going is quite nice (without bugs thankfully). Then abruptly the trail changes and the grade become steep. Fortunately these steep, almost using hand steep sections are quite short. After climbing the first of these you might be thinking you are almost to Lake Lillian - such is not the case.
It was at this point that Carl had had enough and began his return trip. I continued on knowing the lake couldn't be that far away. Only about another 30 minutes as it turned out. These 30 minutes though did offer some challenges in the sense that there were times when the going was easy and there were a couple section where the trail is quite steep. Don't let the topo fool you there are some steep sections. I look at it like they spice up the trip after all it does actually cause you to think a little.
Eventually the trail yielded as it almost always does and I arrived at the lake. I wasn't disappointed it is very beautiful. The lake itself appears fairly deep as there really isn't much shoreline - the surrounding hills just seem to run into the lake. To get to the far end of the lake and the abandoned mine located there take the trail around the North East side of the lake. At first this is a little tricky since you have to work your way around some steep rock on a steep incline. Noting serious, but just be careful. After you cross this section the trail mellows and you can work your way around the lake. If you are staying overnight I would advise making your way to the very North end of the lake as there is a nice meadow located there.
Feeling pinched for time and not wanting Carl to have to wait too long for me after having lunch on the ledge overlooking the lake I turned around and took off. The return trip was uneventful; I caught up with Carl at the edge of the trees above the second growth. One thing to keep in mind if you are contemplating doing this hike is that the area is relatively popular so don't expect solitude! Have fun!
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You Are Right...
Reviewed By: The Scary Dog Stealing Monter on Friday, February 20, 2009 @ 09:43:53 PM
You are right, that something is us and we did not want you to be there. Just so happens, my husband and I were scuba diving the same exact day you were up there and jumping in the water, and we just happened to see this crazy flailing body jump in the water, so we tried to pull it down and see what it was for 2 seconds or so, but could not identify it. So we jumped out and saw the dog thinking it was in danger and wondering how it got tied to a tree without any people there. So I guess that explains the scary dog stealing monsters we are...
Reviewed By: Michael S. on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 @ 12:40:16 PM
While this is a nice hike, the parking lot is totally unsafe for parking your car. Glass and ransacked purses can be seen littered in the parking lot. Over the Oct. 9th 2007 weekend we had our car window smashed and the car looted while on an overnight camping trip. Our hiking companions had their car broken into and stolen. Neither the car or our belonging have been found and I would advise you to think twice before leaving your car for even a day hike.
Reviewed By: hikejr on Friday, August 24, 2007 @ 09:54:02 PM
Hike completed 08/18/2007.
Trail easy to find per the various hiking books. The last 1.8 miles of road is gravel and rather dusty and somewhat washboardy but uneventful. My car got quite dusty on the way out as other cars were also leaving.
Arrived at the parking area about 08:45. Only one other car there. While I was getting ready to leave, three more showed. It appears there is room for about 20 cars in the specific parking area. I was hiking by about 09:05AM.
You start hiking up the logging road, after only about .14 miles going left up an old abandoned gated (with a cable) road. After maybe 3/4 of a mile you come on a well defined path with a hiker sign that goes off to the left and starts to proceed up the clearcut area. At just over a mile is a decent view back down to the Snoqualime pass area. Just past that you cross an even more abandoned logging road and pick up the trail again on the other side. The trail in the clearcut area is steep at times, and was very dusty in places. At about 1.6 miles you leave the clearcut and enter the forest again for the final push up to the Lake Lillian/Margaret junction. This is a much nicer section of trail, long switchbacks ease the grade and the surface is softer/less rocky. At about 2.05 miles you reach the junction. The Margaret Lake fork switchbacks down to the lake a few hundered feet in about 1/2 a mile. I took this fork on the return trip. From the lake you can look up to the left and see Mount Margaret which must afford some nice views.
In any event I continued on the fork to Lake LIllian. The trail is pretty nice and fairly level as it traverses the side of Mount Margaret. (I never did see an obvious trail up to Mount Margaret, but did see some log blocked spur trails). At about 2.38 miles you cross an avalanche chute with nice views to the west.
At 2.74 miles you hit another nice rest/photo point right before you start seriously descending towards Twin Lakes. At times the trail is fairly steep and sometimes rough, but manageable. At 3.33 miles you hit the first of the two small lakes known as Twin Lakes. Some good photo ops and rest points. For some this might be an adequate destination as once you leave this lakes basin the trail gets steep and rough in places. At about 3.5 miles or so and immediately after passing a small pond/puddle off to the left, you veer right and the trail starts up in earnest.. Steep and rough for a bit the trail levels out somewhat as it crosses various rocky avalanche chutes. There is one final short steep section before it levels out and you achieve the Lake about 4.2 miles. My total moving time was 1 hour and 50 minutes. Elapsed time including stopping to take pictures etc was about 2.5 hours.
I was short on time so I didn't explore beyond where the trail hits the lake. I could see people on the other side and a faint looking trail up the right side that looks like you could use to achieve Rampart Ridge and beyond.
Surprisingly the bugs were not too bad. I did use some sunscreen/bug repellant before leaving. I was actually able to sit and eat lunch/take some pictures. After about 20-30 minutes I headed down. I thought the steep sections going down would be worse, but they weren't too bad. There is also some climbing, especially once you leave Twin Lakes. As I said before, once reaching the Margaret Lake junction, I took the pleasant side trip down the lake. More crowds by then for sure but not terrible.
Return uneventful except I did manage to wander off of the switchbacks below the junction, finding myself in the clearcut a bit earlier than I was supposed to. I missed a switchback. By the GPS I knew I was off, so I just retraced my steps and found the trail again.
By the time I got back to the car just before 3PM, the 20 car parking lot was full and a few cars were parked elsewhere along the road etc.
All said I walked 9.75 miles or so including the side trip to Margaret Lake. Elapsed time from car back to the car was just under 6 hours. I think I registered about 3600 feet of total climbing for both lakes (Per Garmin Etrex Vista Cx barometric altimeter).
This hike is worth doing at least once. The few rough steep spots on the trail may discourage the casual hiker. I wore trail running shoes (although I don’t run) and did not have any problems or regrets. For those that want a shorter/easier trip, Margaret Lake isn’t bad either. Next time though I want to find the route up to Mount Margaret. It is so close, yet in the trees when you are hiking, you don’t see an obvious way. I suspect it is one of the log blocked faint trails.
Reviewed By: Jason S. on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 @ 02:58:27 AM
Review: June 10, 2007. I hiked to lake lillian with the company of my dog. The whole time i was hiking i had this strange feeling that something was watching me, and my dog was freaking out pulling on his leash and yelping. This was a little discuraging but i was determined to see the lakes because i had been told they were so beautiful. So i made it to the lake after about 2 and a half hours. i had worked up quite a sweat by the time i arrived so i made my way down to the edge of lake to take a swim. i tied off my dog to a tree about ten feet from where i was swimming and then i jumped in. The water was freezing but refreshing. I was making my way back to the shore when something grabbed my foot from under the water and pulled me under for 2 seconds or so. Then whatever it was let go of me and i got the hell out of the water as fast as i could. Then i noticed that my dog was gone. His leash was gone too, and i had tied it really well to the tree. At this point i was scared for my life. I sprinted up the hill back to the trail. I called for my dog a like 10 times and then started my way back to the car in disbelief about what had just happend to me. I ran part of the way back still with that feeling like something was watching me, it was horible. about half of the way back i found my dogs leash in the pathway. this gave me hope that my dog was still alive. another hour of hiking and running after i found the leash i made it to my car to find my dog inside unharmed. i dont know who put him in there and i dont know what was out there in the forest or what the hell pulled me under the water, but i know whatever it was didnt want me to be there. So I am not ever going close to that place again. thats my experience with lake lillian.
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