Lake Lillian - Rampart Lakes

What a difference a week makes! Last Saturday I was melting in the heat even with a 6:10 am start. This Saturday was a little different. It was 45 degrees at Snoqualmie Pass as we drove over. This trail is one I have been meaning to hike for years. I have been to the first Rampart Lake via the Rachel Lake Trail. I have been to Twin Lakes via the normal Lake Lillian Trail. I had never done the middle part. The road to the start is overgrown and I managed to scratch paint off my car. That's why my mountain car is a nine year old Subaru. One car was at the trailhead. It was a bit chilly.

We hopped over the berm and the road quickly turned into a narrow path. This would be a wet trail if it had been raining. Fortunately the brush was dry and so were we. After crossing the creek the route became much steeper. This is not a bad route but it is steep. It gains about 1000' to Lake Lillian in less than .90 miles. There is a nice waterfall just off the route about half way up.

I missed the intersection with the spur to Lake Laura. I headed off towards Laura. Suzanne noticed and directed me back on the correct trail. In 35 minutes we were at Lake Lillian. Low clouds hung down over the lake. We could just see the ridge behind. The route scrambles over a sloping rock above the lake then drops down to a lakeside route. We met two couples here. A marmot was whistling a warning as we approached. That was the first of many marmots we were to see.

The route split with the right trail going steeply up towards the ridge. This is the way we went. It turns out that the lower route also has a spur which goes up to the ridge top. Most of the climb was moderately steep but it was much steeper near the top. This would not be fun if it were muddy. At the top we could see Mt. Margaret and even Lake Keechelus far below. The ridge route is just that. For the most part we stayed on or just below the top.

We came to a 4 way intersection. Left dropped back down to Lillian. Right dropped down to the basin below. We went straight ahead. Quickly I was at the high point along the ridge. Traversing below the ridge looked reasonable but I could not see if the route continued. Below in the basin were several small lakes and a very obvious route. That's where we decided to go. Rather than back tracking to the trail down we dropped straight down the slope to the lake below.

It was steep but not too bad. At the lake Sadie took the second of a dozen or so swims for the day. The route climbed to another small lake then climbed up to a rocky pass above. A marmot sat on a big boulder at the pass acting like a sentinel. The weather had been improving and we had a little blue sky now. Great views from the pass. Rampart Lakes sat below us with Alta and Hibox Mountains in the background. Some crest peaks were in the clear and some still in the clouds.

We headed on down but could not find a trail. The gully just below the pass was still snowy but mostly it was bare dirt and rock. Staying left of the gully took us to a heather flat and a very steep drop from there. Heading back to the right side of the gully we picked up an obvious route. It was steep but not a bad way to lose 500' very fast. We passed three more guys coming up from the Rachel Lake trailhead.

Down at the lake it was almost pleasant. Still a little chilly with some wind but that combo did keep the bugs from being a problem all day. There were more people at the lakes though still not much of a crowd. We had lunch then headed down to the other lakes. At about the point I had reached via Rachel we called it a day. Suzanne needed to be back in Seattle and the trail ahead we have both done many times.

We climbed back up the 500' to the pass and dropped back down the other side. Flowers were minimal though the meadows were very nice. We followed the trail down farther then up to the 4 way intersection on the ridge top. We chose to follow our route back rather than try the other trail down to Lillian. Back at Lillian Sadie had another swim and we started down the trail. This time we took the spur over to Lake Laura. There is quite a waterfall coming out of Lake Lillian that is visible from Laura.

We returned to the main trail just in time to meet up with the two couples we saw at Lake Lillian in the morning. Less than 30 minutes later we were back at the car. This was a nice trip for a day when we had to be back in town by late afternoon and the high peaks were partly in the clouds. This is a short trail to Lake Lillian but not an easy one. For the day we hiked only 6 miles round trip but gained 3500'. Nearly 1200' per mile and few switchbacks can be a rough day for your knees.


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Trips - 2006