Wallace & Jay Lakes

Saturday would be the first 60+ degree weekend day of the year. The trails would be mobbed. I still have not had a Covid vaccine shot. I wanted to get in a long hike. How to avoid the huge crowds? Why Wallace Falls State Park of course. It is one of the most popular trailheads in the state. It fills ulp early. Folks park along and in the road ourside the park. My plan was the to hike mostly on a route few care to hike. I was out of Seattle at 7:05 am and pulled into the parking lot at 8:04 am. By 8:09  I was packed up on my way. On my visit last October the lot was less than half full. This day it was 80% full. There were less than a dozen spots left. I headed down the road/trail to the viewpoint. Baring and Persis and Index Mountains were in the clear. It was supposed to be clear skies later but it was mostly white in the morning..

I saw two hikers at the Woody Trail junction as I headed up the old Railroad Grade. A few minutes later I passed two more hikers. That was it until 5 miles later. Even more solitude than I had hoped for. At the 1.5 mile mark I turned onto the old route up to the DNR logging road that goes to near Wallace Lake. This was the route I first hiked to Wallace Lake on 2-11-89, some 32 years ago. Back then the entire route was on a grassy old narrow logging road. It was a trail at that time. Now it is back to being a wide gravel logging road. .90 miles of the old narrow road brought me to the big logging road. The upper end of the old road had some fresh logging. At the junction I found the heavy equipment used to log. Now I had 3.5 miles of the newer road to hike.

Much of the road has been logged. This provides plenty of sunshine and views out to snowy ridges and peaks. There is still a big of forested road. I was glad to have the sunshine since we have had very little this winter. Right across from me is the old Haystack Ridge Lookout site. I did an even longer hiker to reach that spot in 2015. There was still a lot of snow on the upper ridge. I made good time as the grade is a steady but not steep grade. I kept expecting a bicycle or two to zoom by but none were seen. At the quarry I found more heavy equipment. I turned around here and saw Mounts Index and Persis. They still have a lot of snow highlighting them. The rock wall of the quarry and the road made for a really neat photo from here. The route continues on until it finally switchbacks to the right and heads for the top of the Greg Ball Trail. I saw the first small snow patches along here. Closer to the junction there was some snow on the road.

Just before reaching the Gregg Ball Trail I saw two hikers heading down the road. The first people seen in 5 miles. After the junction the road as mostly snow covered. Not deep but a few inches except for a thin crust in the wheel tracks. Now I just had .60 miles to Wallace Lake. I saw two folks behind me who came up the Greg Ball Trail. On the forested spur to the lake I saw several groups heading down. This was as busy as it was all day. At the lake I went onto the outlet bridge for a look down the lake. The lake was not frozen. There as some snow at the outlet and part of the way around the lake. Much of the way was already bare.

I took a short detour on the route heading to Wallace Falls. There is a creek running across the trail that can be very hard to cross when the water is running high. This day it was passable. I headed back to the outlet. Next I hiked .70 miles around the lake tot he inlet. There is a short trail down to a bench near the lake nearing the inlet. I stopped for a short look at the lake. I could see over to Pebble Beach. Nobody was there. Great! I would head on over there. In October the inlet creek was running so high I could not follow it to the lake. I bushwhacked over to the shore and the lake was so high Pebble Beach was completely underwater. This day the creek was dry. I walked right out to Pebble Beach. There was almost no wind. The lake was fat and showed a great reflection. I pulled up a log at 10:53 am. I had hiked 7.5 miles in 2:44. Not too bad. It was 34 degrees when I started hiking. It was now nearing 50 degrees. I spent 27 minutes at the lake. I hiker arrived just as I was packing up to leave.

I had one more destination. It is a pretty flat one mile to Jay Lake. I immediately entered forest and snow appeared. Most of the way to Jay was on snow. It was not deep but it was a bit slick. I had poles and did fine. I brought yaktrax but chose not to put them on. I was slower on the slick snow but had no real problem. I arrived at Jay Lake and went down to the one spot where I have been able to see the lake. There is brush along the shore. When the lake is high you can't get out far enough to see much. This day I was able to get a pretty good look at the lake. No leaves have opened yet block views. I was really surprised to see that Jay Lake was mostly covered with a thin layer of ice. It is not much higher than Wallace Lake. I had some blue sky now. After a short break another group arrived and I headed back. 8.5 miles done and I was only half way. This would be along day.

My first visit to Jay Lake was cross country along the other side of the creek.  had no idea an old road was existed. I met another guy who joined me. We reached the lake on the left side of the creek and had a good look at the lake from higher up in a boulder field. I have wanted to get over there again. I have not found an easy way across the creek. For fun I tried again. I did find a spot where I could rock hop across. I then bumbled through down trees and rocks with snow covering unseen holes. It was very slow going. I did get a narrow view of the lake but I still had a ways to go across a snowy boulder field. Being alone I chose not to go farther. I headed back to the real trail.

Back at Wallace Lake I went to Pebble Beach. Nobody was there. I spent another 20 minutes sitting in the sun. A few fish were jumping. Ducks were taking off and landing. Otherwise, I had the lake to myself. For such a busy state park I had a whole lot of solitude. At 12:54 pm I packed up and headed down. On the way around the lake I took one last detour to get a look out to the Skykomish Valley. With the sun up high there was a lot more glare than in the morning. I saw several groups at the outlet. On the way to the Greg Ball Trail junction I saw several more groups. After I passed the junction and headed down the gravel DNR Road again. Again I had it to myself. Not a single person seen on the 3.5 miles of road. My feet were getting a bit sore but I was doing fine.

After leaving the Road for the older narrow road I did meet two bicyclers. I reached the Railroad Grade and had just 1.5 miles to go. I saw 3 or 4 groups in the next mile. When I reached the Woody Trail the crowds showed up. On the last quarter mile I was behind a number of groups spread out all across the trail. There was no way I was getting by. No problem, I did not have far to go. I arrived at the parking lot at 3:33 pm to find a whole lot of people. I went right to my car. The lot was almost full as a few folks pulled out as I got ready to leave. Driving out of the lot I found cars parked on both sides of the road below. Numerous people were walking 4 abreast in the right lane. I had to drive in the wrong lane for quite a distance to get around them. Just crazy. The crowds were there as I expected. My route was long and brought me into contact with other hikers in just a few spots. I had a very high level of solitude. When the pandemic is behind us I won't mind passing people so much. For now I will keep finding routes that allow me to avoid big crowds on the trail.

For the day I hiked 17 miles with 1800' of elevation gain.  I had some really nice snowy mountain views. I passed two lakes. I had two nice long stops at Wallace Lake. For a sunny day I had a great time and did not have to contend with the crazy crowds found on trails like the one to Wallace Falls. The drive home was more than a half hour longer than my morning drive as I did not get down early enough to miss the Stevens Pass sky crowds. A small price to pay for a sunny day. When I reached the trailhead in the afternoon it was 63 degrees. The warmest day of the year to far. A near perfect day on the trail.

Mt. Baring
Mts. Index & Persis
Railroad Grade
Trails Map
Logging Operations
DNR Road Views
Haystack Ridge
Olympic Mountains
Index & Persis
Snow On Road
Greg Ball Trail
Snowy Road
At Wallace Lake
Lake From Outlet
Very Wet Trail
Heading Around Lake
Snowy Bench
Wallace Lake Reflection
Pebble Beach
One More Reflection
Dry Inlet
Snowy Trail
Deeper Snow
Nearing Jay Lake
Picnic Site At Jay Lake
Frozen Jay Lake
Outlet End Of Jay Lake
Across Outlet
Shelf Fungus
Straight Snowy Trail
Back At Wallace Lake
Haystack Ridge Again
Snowy Ridge
Back On Snowy Road
Hazy Afternoon
Leaving DNR Road
Rake Required
Mossy Trees
Back At Viewpoint
Crowds At The Finish
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2021