Lakes Dorothy, Bear, & Deer

Kim was going out as a volunteer ranger once again and I signed on at the last minute. The weather promised to be wet and misty. I had several days of that the previous week in the Olympics. Still, after all the 90 degree days this month that didn't sound so bad. Saturday morning we drove up to the Skykomish Ranger Station. Kim signed in and collected here supplies. We had a short drive back west to the road to Miller River. The gravel road was in pretty good condition. Most any car could drive it. We arrived at 10:05 am. By 10:20 am we were on the trail. It had been nine years since my last hike on this trail. That day I went all the way to Snoqualmie Lake. It had been a warm sunny day. This weekend we had slightly less ambitious plans.

It is only about 1.5 miles to Lake Dorothy. On my 2006 visit the many wooden and rock steps were pretty new. I did not like the sheer number of steps. I counted over 650 that day. Now they are weathered and look better. They are more of a pain with an overnight backpack. Still, it is only 1.5 miles to the lake. After all the hot hikes this summer the misty low 50s temperature was pleasant. There were about a dozen cars in the lot.

The trail is gentle for the first mile up to the bridge over Camp Robber Creek. That creek mets the East Fork Miller River here. Camp Robber was flowing but there seemed be be almost no water coming out of Lake Dorothy. Both creeks flow over big rock slabs here. Now the trail gets down to business climbing to the lake. Still not terribly steep but much more so than lower down. This section was a bit of a knee breaker coming down. Not so bad going up just a lot more work than a trail that is not mostly steps. Some bigger trees as we climbed higher. The valley was clear cut up to that last 1.5 mile trail. Fortunately, we saw a lot  of big trees along our entire route.

We took a break at the outlet. I arrived first and walked out to the end of the lake. The ridges above were lost in clouds. I could see down the length of Lake. Dorothy. We hike up to the site the forest service uses and it was not taken. Kim was able to radio out from there. We set up camp and off loaded most of our pack weight into our tents. Now we were ready for the day hike part of the trip. We headed down the trail a long two miles to the inlet end. There are 17 campsites marked on a map seen when reaching the lake. There are also 4 toilets. Part of Kim's job was to check out the toilets and look for any signs of campfires. Campfires are not allowed at Lake Dorothy at any time. Especially with a high fire danger.

We found some sites taken and some still available. The trail is mostly well above the lake and sites have steep trails down to them. Towards the inlet end the trail drops to near lake level. The distance from the parking lot to the lake is shorter than the hike along the lake. On my last visit and many others since my first visit in the mid 1980s, there was a bridge across the inlet. In the spring the water can be pretty high and the bridge was essential. The winter of 2008-09 took out the bridge. Not broken but totally gone. I was curios to see what creek ford was like. The ford was very wide and not deep this time of year. We had no trouble rock hopping across. The old bridge was long enough that it had a rock with two levels of wood supporting the center. The rock is still there with one level of wood but it has rolled so the wood is no longer parallel to the creek. A whole lot of water washed it all away.

More campsites across the inlet and no campfires. Folks are doing a good job following the rules. We also found almost no litter at the lake. A great sight not to see. Next we needed to cross the ridge from the Skykomish drainage to the Snoqualmie River drainage. The trail seemed to me to be a lot of long and gentle switchbacks. The terrain is a bit rooty and rocky to add to the fun. Also the misty clouds began to drop drizzle on us. Time for some rain gear. It was mostly just light drizzle. We had met several groups coming down and they all had the same story. Friday night had been a deluge. A few parties cut their trips short due to all the rain. Everyone seemed to be having a good time though. There has been some work done along here since 2006. The trail was a little better than I recalled.

We reached the pass and then headed down the south side. Some very nice old forest along here. Big cedar trees especially. Soon Bear Lake came into view. Lake Dorothy is huge and Snoqualmie Lake is very large. I forgot that Bear and Deer Lakes are good sized too. Part way along Bear Lake Kim noticed a ceramic insulator on a tree. Huh? We often see those on old trails to fire lookout sites. What need was there for communications on a forest trail? That one is a mystery. We continued half way along Deer Lake to a good spot for a break just above lake level. This point was about 5.5 miles from the car. Enough breeze to warrant more clothing. It was 97 degrees in Seattle last weekend. Now it was probably about 50 degrees. We had a nice long break before heading back.

The climb back to the saddle is nice smooth trail. Kim was able to get radio contact from the ridge to check in.  Gong down the wet slick rocky part on the north side was more challenging. Some heavier rain called for umbrellas. Though it was now about 5:00 pm and raining we met several more groups day hiking on their way up. At the end of the lake most of the campsites had now been taken. The rain did not seem to be bothering anyone. Kim stopped to talk with folks we met. We took our time checking out a few more campsites on the way back. It was about 8:00 pm when we reached our site. I hiked 120' down to the outlet to fill a water bag. The creeks higher up are mostly dry. Dinner and off to bed about 9:00 pm. The rain picked up and continued all night. Not a bad trade off. We were mostly dry hiking all day and the rain held off until night.

Sunday we awoke to more rain. No hurry so we slept in until about 8:40 am. At that time the rain turned back to light drizzle. It even stopped when we broke camp. The hike down was only that 1.5 miles so we had an easy day. We were passed by one group already most of the way down from their Snoqualmie Lake camp. More folks were coming in than I expected. With a few breaks and photo taking we were back at the trailhead about 12:30 pm. Much of our drive back was in rain.

All things considered, we had pretty good weather. Yeah it rained a little and drizzled some more but most of day one and all of day two hiking was in misty and dry conditions. The forest takes on a very different mood when it is enmeshed in gray. A very nice break from blisteringly hot days of hiking. The heat is coming back very soon but we had a "break" from summer and it was appreciated. This trip can be done as a day hike but having so much extra time made for a slower pace and closer examination. We had a very good time.

Getting Ready To Go
Camp Robber Ck Bridge
Where's The River?
Camp Robber Creek
Lake Dorothy Outlet
Campsites Map
Our Campsite
Water Drops
Big Orange Fungus
Mossy Rock
Missing Bridge
Bridge In 2006
Kim Crosses Creek
A Little Brushy
View Down Lake
Big Trees
Big Fungus
Clasping Twistedstalk
Island Hardly Visible
Another Island
Wet Tent
Heading Down
Picture Frame
Green On Black
Another Fungus
Trail Map
Bear Lake Panorama
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2015