Area: Bandera

Length: (6.5 +) 3.9

Elevation: 3440 +1600 -1180

Condition: moderately good

Solitude: very high

Appeal: high

Features: Windy Lake, Kaleetan Lake

Difficulty: difficult

Administered: USFS, North Bend R.D.

Trailhead: ---

Connects to:
Tuscohatchie/Melakwa Connector

Guides: CRbp, BPWsm

Maps: USGS Bandera, Snoqualmie Pass,
Green Trails Bandera, Snoqualmie Pass




So you have already gone six and a half miles to get to the Lower Tuscohatchie Lake. Do you have enough fuel in your tanks to do another 4 miles of rough and vigorous packing? If so, you are in for a treat in this very remote place with a classic view.


Kaleetan Lake

Kaleetan Lake


This is the kind of trail that has a little of everything, the best of the Bandera area, but you have to work for it.

Follow the Pratt Lake hike and continue on the Tuscohatchie trail to reach Lower Tuscohatchie Lake. Just a short distance after crossing the outlet creek, turn left at the marked trail junction. You will curl around the end of a small rise, and then take a remarkably level route NNE for the first 0.3 miles. Descend on switchbacks, dropping 400 feet to reach a creek at 0.8 miles — actually, the headwaters of the Pratt River. You will have a choice of a slippery wet crossing on a high log, or a wet-footed crossing. I went for wet.

Now begin a steady uphill haul, with a long stretch toward the northwest, followed by another traverse toward the east, gaining a thousand feet elevation in a mile. After switching back to the northwest again, some of the major trail maps show another long eastward leg — if it had once been so, it has not been like that for a very, very long time. Instead, there is a short zig-zag switchback, with the trail returning quickly to its northwest course and gaining another 600 feet. At 2.3 miles, about 1/4 mile past the zig-zag, the trail levels, and for the next half mile it traverses the west flank of the unnamed butte at approximately 4500 feet elevation. You almost trace a semicircle, to arrive at roughly the same elevation on the north side. Here, the trail begins a downward slant to the northeast, at 3.1 miles reaching and crossing the outlet creek of Windy Lake.

Windy Lake is high and harsh, but you could camp atop the rise on the far side of the outlet. Most likely, having gotten this far, you will want to continue, at first following the rise to the north, but very soon slipping off to the left to begin a descent in the general northeast direction. This continues approximately straight to about mile 3.7, where the terrain flattens a bit; follow an easier grade at first, then suddenly veer off to the right for a more steep descent reaching the lake outlet at 3.9 miles. There is a lovely camp there, and you are allowed to share the logs with the mayflies to soak up the views of Kaleetan Peak.

If you are the type who can get this far, you might also be the type who is willing to push through the dense berry brush to visit crispy cold ponds Ice Lake and Frozen Lake beyond the boulder fields at the far end of Kaleetan Lake.