Wallace Falls & Lakes Loop

Gary was free and we planned a trip east. A chance to finally visit the new 59er Diner. We were considering Dirty Face Peak or Alpine Lookout. The forecast looked pretty good until the morning of ur trip. Suddenly a chance of thunderstorms emerged. Doing a high ridgge walk or going to a high and pretty bare summit suddenly did not look so good. At 6:00 am we conversed and tried to come up with a fall back plan. Gary came up with Wallace Falls and Lake. A shorter drive would give us time for a longer hike in a place far enough west to have minimal lightning risk through the afternoon. We met in Bothell at 7:00 am and headed east. We turned off Highway 2 at Gold Bar and soon reached Wallace Falls State Park. The lot was a little less than half full. That's what you get with a 7:40 am arrival.

It was a very comfortable 62 degrees with a low overcast probably about 1000' up. We started out and at the viewpoint for Baring and Index Peaks we saw...nothing. The top half of all the peaks were lost in the clouds. We quickly reached the Woody Trail junction and chose that trail over the railroad grade. It is shorter but a little more interesting. We crossed the NF Wallace River on a bridge and then had the short steep climb to the covered picnic spot. Mandatory stop here for views up to the Middle Falls and to smaller cascades and falls here. Then it was on up the trail.

We stopped at the falls viewpoints. The water level over the falls was quite low. I usually visit fall to spring when the water level is much higher. We took a short stop at the upper falls viewpoint before heading up to the old road above. So far we had not seen many folks. Up at the road we turned right. Gary had not seen the bridge over the river just above the upper falls. On my last visit there was a great mushroom display on the other side of the river. Recently this year's display has been outstanding. I hoped to see quite a few. We saw about two mushrooms. Hardly anything to see right now. At road level we were now also at cloud level. We recrossed the bridge and headed on to Wallace Lake. At the clear cut we went over to the edge where there are some great views. Not his day. We could not even see down to the valley below. No views at all. There was a moody and cloudy feel that was pretty nice though.

At the road junction we went right towards the lake. Shortly we left the road and headed back into the forest on the old road. Along here a creek has created a lake that can be very had to get across during the rainy seasons. It is almost dry at this time. There are also big flat rocks along the side of the old road. They go on for quite a ways. This might be enough to allow passage with dry feet when the lake/puddle returns. We quickly reentered the part and soon reached Wallace Lake. From the outlet we could see all the way to the other end of the lake. There were a couple hikers at the lake who left when we arrived.

As we hiked around the lake the clouds blew back in. At first we could see part way across the lake. Soon we could not see much at all. We passed by the inlet creek trail to Pebble Beach. First we decided to hike the a mile to Jay Lake. Nearing the lake we met a couple who had camped the previous night at the lake. There was nobody else at Jay Lake. We went down to the shore. The shore is brushy and marshy making it hard to get a good look. The dry summer allowed us to get far enough out for a full look up and down the lake. With that, we headed back to Wallace Lake. A little before reaching Jay Lake Gary noticed a garter snake right on the trail. It was not moving though it was alive. I guess it was the cold that slowed it down. We took photos. Usually the snakes are gone before I can get out my camera. On the way back the snake was gone.

We reached Pebble Beach at 10:52 am. We had already hiked 8 miles and it was well before lunch time. Well, it was time for an early lunch. Nobody else was there. The fog/clouds now completely covered the lake. I could see a log sticking out of the water and nothing else. It was by far the foggiest I have ever seen the lake. We stayed at the lake until 11:55 am. That hour went by pretty fast. We hiked back around the lake and took one more detour. A new clear cut is just off the route around the lake. I hoped we might have at least a look down into the valley. Well, no. No views from here either. Now we headed back to the outlet and then down the road/trail along the outlet. We reached the gravel logging road and a few minutes down it we reached the top of the Greg Ball Trail. Now we had a nice trail down to the railroad grade. Not far along the trail we found all the mushrooms that we had not seen earlier. A very nice display of fungi.

We popped out onto the railroad grade with about 2.5 miles to go. There are two short trails down to the Woody Trail but we stayed on the longer railroad grade back to the parking lot. In the last couple miles we began to see more people. We reached the trailhead at 2:11 pm. An early end to a surprising long hike. We covered 13.8 miles with 2200' of elevation gain. Most of the route was very gently graded and the trip did not seem to be nearly that long. The temperature seemed to be consistently at about 62 degrees. Almost perfect hiking conditions. I was a little disappointed that we had zero views but it never rained and more importantly there was no lightning. It was a very fun trip.

That evening we had one of the longest and most intense thunderstorms that I have ever seen in Seattle. The sky was lighting up continuously. I saw many bolts of lightening too. It was quite a show. We may have been conservative in staying out of the high mountains during the day but the evening was a huge lightening show.

Wallace River
Gary On NF Bridge
First Falls View
Lower Falls
Middle Falls
Upper Falls
Gary On Upper Bridge
First Mushroom
View From Bridge
View From Clear Cut
Misty Trees
On The Road Again
New Rock Steps
Wallace Lake Outlet
On To Jay Lake
Garter Snake
Trail To Jay Lake
Wallace Lake Inlet
Beautiful View Of Lake
Misty Log
Misty Lake Shore
View Down Lake
Another Viewpoint
Greg Ball Trail Fungus
Turkey Tails?
Another Angle
Another Mushroom
Last Mushroom
Leaves On Grade
Railroad Trestle
Jay Lake Panorama
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019