Granite Lakes

Kim was free and we chose a close in hike. I had not been on the new start to the Granite Lakes Trail and him had never been on any part of the trail. It would be raining off and on for both sides of the Cascade Mountains so a longer drive would not be much dryer. We met in North Seattle at 7:30 am and headed east. The now paved Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road made the drive from the old end of pavement to the new trailhead a breeze. The trailhead only opened last year. The entrance to the lot is just before the bridge over the MF Snoqualmie River. Granite Creek also meets the MF nearby. We arrived to find the lot half full at 8:20 am. A big group was getting ready to go. We packed up and were on the trail before they left.

While I had not hiked this new trail, I did hike the unofficial boot path that also went from this spot to the Granite Creek Road/trail. The old route was short and steep. This one would undoubtedly take a longer but less steep route. The new trail starts out at a gentle grade. It steepens a little then settles into a steady moderate grade. Just what I was expecting. It is plenty wide for folks to pass but not as wide as a road. Steps are non existent. Just a smooth grade. The sky was overcast and threatening but dry at first. Foxglove was in bloom alongside the trail for some distance. There are benches set beside the trail in several places. I guessed there were views though we had to wait for the hike back to see them.

The big group and several smaller ones went by us. We were not in a big hurry. After a mile or so Granite Creek's noise became apparent. After 1.5 miles we reached the junction with the old Granite Creek Road/trail. We passed the big group here and played leap frog several more times on the way to the lakes. A short way up the trail we reached the new bridge over Granite Creek. For visits during the first several decades I hiked this route there was a big concrete truck bridge. It was removed in recent years when the road was converted to a trail. The temporary bridge that sat here for a year or two is now down in the creek. The new bridge sits higher. Benches built at the time of the first wooden bridge are still there but sit lower than the existing bridge.

We crossed the bridge and continued on. The old road above the bridge is really looking much more like a trail. Encroaching brush might be a problem in years to come. I hiked the road many times when it was 20 feet wide. Not any more. All the culverts were pulled when the road was converted to trail. Most of them are easy step overs. One could be challenging at high spring snow melt times. On one winter snowshoe trip I was turned back by a seven foot deep drop to the small creek below. No snow left this year. The low clouds closed out all views. We could not even see up to the ridge between Mailbox Peak and Dirty Harry's Peak. The 2.2 miles to the lakes junction seemed to be much longer. At long last we reached it.

Left continues climbing up to the Defiance Trail leading to Thompson Lake. Right goes downhill to Upper Granite Lake. There were a few more small creeks to cross. We noticed some marsh marigolds in bloom. I recalled from earlier visits that the spur road ended and an animal trail/boot path continued on to the upper lake. Now there is just a trail all the way. Instead of leading to marshy ground right before the outlet creek, the path led to the outlet then rock hopped across it. The creek was running high but it was still possible to get across with dry boots. We now found heather in bloom and some blooming skunk cabbage. Much to my surprise, there was even a little beargrass blooming. The big group was at the clearing right above the end of the lake. We found some rocks just before that to sit on. It was now just a few minutes before noon and lunch time.

The big group left and several other small groups arrived. We saw a number of hikers during the day. Most groups were 2-4 people with a few single hikers too. It was never crowded. We spent 20 minutes at the lake and packed up to leave. Back across the outlet then uphill on the boot path to the spur road/trail. Between the upper and lower Granite Lakes it is very brushy. Not an easy walk to get to the lower lake. It was very easy on a winter trip when we snowshoed many feet above the brush on snow. On my last post snow visit I poked around and found a much easier way to get to a point looking down on the lower lake. The problem was figuring out where to leave the road/trail? I saw a spot that seemed about right. Off we went. A little forest proved much easier than brush and sticker bushes. I was a little surprised to pop out right where I was on the last trip. No trees in the way to block a great view of the lower lake.

A little sun even came out for a minute. We sat on big rocks and soaked up some sun. It was in the upper 40s much of the day but that sun felt warm. But it did not last. All to soon we headed back. Once on the lakes spur trail we climbed back up to the junction with the main trail. Now it as all downhill. We saw a few more groups coming in but not many. We had a few periods of showers. A few meant pulling out our umbrellas. It never rained hard. That 2.2 miles down to the new trail junction seemed to go on a long time. I was glad to reach the new trail. That smooth trail was easy to descend. We reached the trailhead at 4:40 pm. The lot was now more than 3/4ths empty

This proved to be a good day for a hike. We had the rain showers expected but they did not last that long. The cool temperature was kind of nice. We will have a lot of hot days coming up soon. Lunch at the upper lake was good and our visit to the lower lake overlook was even better. Though not a steep trail we did ascend 2400' for the day. The new trail cuts more than a mile off the old route and the bigger parking lot means a good chance to find a spot to park. The newly paved MF Road is so much faster and smoother than it used to be. All in all, it was a fun hike.

One Big Snag
New Trail
Big Tree
Interesting Lighting
Big Mossy Rock
Alongside Granite Creek
Kim On A Bench
More Granite Creek
Creek From Bridge
Old Bridge
Low Clouds
Rock Hopping Creek
Changing Lighting
Marsh Marigold
Blue Sky!
Nearing Upper Lake
Misty Meadow
Outlet Creek
Kim Rock Hopping
Upper Granite Lake
Lunch Spot
New Growth
False Hellebore
Lower Granite Lake
Bleeding Hearts
Heading Back Uphill
Road To Trail
Many Shades Of Green
Folks On Bridge
Back Alongside Creek
Trail Sign
Salt Shaker?
View Out
Mossy Rock Again
Kim On Armrest Bench
Trails Map
Panorama Of Lower Granite Lake
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2018