Wallace Falls/Lake Loop

Time to start another year of hiking. Another in a series of cold clear days. I chose to do some miles without needing snowshoes. It was cold enough I chose to not get a real early start. Passing through Sultan I saw a sign blinking  the temperature - 20 degrees. That's cold at only a few hundred feet above sea level. There were half a dozen cars in the Wallace Falls State Park lot near the rental cabins. There were only two cars near the trailhead. I hit the trail at 9:30 am.

The parking lot was icy. Getting to the trail without falling was a battle. The trail starts on a gravel road and it was mostly ice. There was enough snow off to the side to provide a little traction. Our sub freezing last week has made busy trails very slick. I chose to hike up the very busy trail to the falls and down the less used Greg Ball Trail from the lake. To get in an extra mile I took the old railroad grade instead of the Woody Trail which is nearer the river. The tread was slick but not too bad.

The grade is pretty gentle and I managed to stay on my feet without a traction device. I passed the first trail that drops to the Woody Trail. I took the second one. In short order I was on the Woody Trail. The route soon drops to the bridge over the NF Wallace River. Wooden steps covered in ice. Time for Yaktrax. They made all the difference. I kept them on all the way to the road above the upper falls. Great traction. Not even close to falling down.

I stopped at the shelter and met two other hikers. Nice views of the lower falls. Now I had solitude and it lasted most of the rest of the day. Very nice look at the middle falls. Snow flocked the trees all around. The upper falls also looked great. This trail is always packed on a nice day. Also packed on a lot of rainy days. I followed tracks for a short way from the upper falls and blue diamonds began. They led up to the road above. There was not all that much snow. The route was easy enough to follow.

The snow depth was 3-5 inches on the upper road in the forest. There were half a dozen boot tracks. There is very little elevation change on the 2.4 miles to the lake. When the old road reached the new logging road I broke out of the forest. The open road had more snow but it was still no more than 6-8 inches deep. The existing boot tracks helped too. I made steady though slower progress. The trail entered forest 1/3 mile from the lake.

I soon crossed the bridge over the outlet and found many more boot prints. A number of folks had hiked to the lake but not the falls. Now I just had to hike to the other end of the lake. Tracks started around the lake but soon there was only one track left. It was cold in the forest but I could see bright sun shining on the lake. At the end of the lake I found the inlet creek was dry. I walked down the creek bed instead of fighting  through the brush. Pebble Beach was under water but the water was  low enough to provide a snowy shore. The sun sure felt nice. It was now up to about 30 degrees but felt much warmer in the sunshine.

It was 12:45 as I sat down to lunch. It took 3:15 to hike 7 1/2 miles per my GPS. Ice and snow lined the lake. It is still mostly open with some frozen water near the shore. There was a nice reflection of the far shore and forested peaks just beyond. The person who had made the lone track went to Pebble Beach then continued on towards Jay Lake. When I left that person was still  behind me. I spent half an hour enjoying the views and the sun. At 1:15 I packed up and started back.

The sun is very low and it was already dropping behind the ridge. I was in cold forest for most all the hike out. Cold enough to break out my warmest gloves. I had heard a barking dog at the other end of the lake but when I returned there was no sign of dog or owner. GPS recorded 7/10 of a mile to the lake inlet. I hiked along the old road back to the newer road. It has been 22 years since my first visit. The lake was seldom visited via the old road route. A right turn quickly brought me to the Greg Ball Trail. A trail runner was coming up the logging road route. Other tracks headed down the road too. I chose the shorter trail route back.

The trail was packed down but not nearly as icy as the trail to Wallace Falls. The Yaktrax stayed in my pack. The two miles of trail went pretty fast. Near the end of the trail I was passed by a mountain biker. They are allowed on roads in the park and can follow those roads to the lake and beyond. They are not allowed on the Greg Ball Trail. Oh well... From the end of the trail I could hike out 1.3 miles vial the Woody Trail or 2.3 miles via the railroad grade. I chose the latter. It went fast enough. I saw several folks heading out as I was hiking back. It was 3:15 when I reached my car. It took two hours to hike 5.7 miles out from Pebble Beach.

This is a great winter hike as the high point is under 2000' and seldom has a lot of snow. A fairly early start allowed for a great deal of solitude. The view of the falls with snow flocked trees all around was worth the trip. Add in the view from Pebble Beach and the sunny shore and it made for a great day. My GPS recorded a little over 13 miles with 1800' of elevation gain. It was a great if cold day in the mountains.

Icy Start
Mt. Baring
Park Map
More Snow Less Ice
Icy Drop To Bridge
NF Wallace River
Lowest Falls
More Cascades
Big Falls
Wider View
Upper Falls
Snowy Upper Road/Trail
Blue Sky On Newer Road
Big Ice Crystals
Dark Reflection
Wallace Lake Outlet
Snowy Inlet Creek Bed
Icy Along Shore
Flocked Trees Reflection
Wallace Lake Reflection
Snow Island
Ice And Crystals
Frozen Inlet Creek
Blue Sky And Lake
Shiny Crystals
Ice Meets Water
Canyon Of Trees
Old Dam Near Outlet
Snowy Newer Road
Sun On Snowy Trees
Trail Work
A Few Green Leaves
Sun On Mossy Trees
Bare Ground!
Mt. Index
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2011