Area: Middle Fork Snoqualmie

(3.0 +) 1.8

Elevation: 1740 +1250 -40

Condition: rough, steep parts, brushy

Solitude: high

Appeal: medium high

Features: modest views, wild lake

Difficulty: moderately high

Administered: North Bend RD

Trailhead: Taylor River

Connects to: Taylor River Trail

Guides: KShh

Maps: Green Trails Mt Si
Green Trails Skykomish



Only 1250 feet elevation to gain with 1.8 miles to gain it? How tough could that be? This is the trail that can tell you.

Except for a period of about 8 years in which I maintained this trail under a USFS "Adopt-A-Trail" program, this trail has received no regular maintenance. This is not recommended as a beginner's trail. I was there one night to witness the evacuation of an unprepared and distracted hiker who slipped and fell onto irregular boulders in the creek canyon. An experienced hiker would not allow anything like that to happen, but might still be victim to a face wash with salmonberry thorns.

But then again, Daniel was only 6 and he made it all the way with his folks for a comfortable overnight campout at the lake. Maybe you could manage.




Go to the Taylor River Trail, and walk the first 3.0 miles. About 50 yards before the foot bridge over Marten Creek, look for a rough unmarked foot path weaving uphill between rocks and trees.

Before leaving the Taylor River trail, follow up the left side of the creek about 50 yards over boulders and logs to see "The Chute," where Marten Creek splashes through a naturally-sculpted slot into a small pool. (I once bet a kid a buck that he wouldn't jump straight into that pool. Let's just say temperatures run a bit cool. He did. I paid.)

Back to the trail: the first part of the route is an exercise in root hopping and mud navigation, with a lot of scrambling around, across, over. The footing is treacherous, but at least the route is easy to follow here.

The second phase of the climb begins shortly after a distinctive boulder with a moss toupee that I call "The Rock Chip." The obvious way leads around the back on the left — but that way lies madness. Instead, go around to the right and look for a short downhill drop before resuming a course parallel to the creek canyon.

In the middle section of the trail, I have visions of being swallowed by two inrushing waves, in a sea that is a mix of head-high bracken ferns and aggressive salmonberry brush. Don't focus too much on the thorns, or you are likely to drop your foot into a treacherous hollow. The "soil" in this area is an illusion, actually just a thin blanket of fallen brush over fallen rock.

Finally, the brush becomes thinner and lower as the valley ends. Some serious blasting would be needed to establish a stable route up from here. On the left are the imposing rock slabs; on the right is a deep craggy notch where the creek runs.

Between, find a fractured rock, about 6 feet high. Climb up the broken edge, and pull yourself past the cedar tree at the top to locate the track again.

From here, the tread is relatively firm and clear, but straight as a snake's back and painfully steep, gaining a few hundred feet elevation on a 30 degree grade. Abruptly, the trail takes a right turn, straightens, and becomes almost level — and very pleasant by contrast. Follow along a short distance to find a minor boulder tumble; cross it, and find the route again below the far side. The final couple hundred yards are beautiful, with a gentle grade down to the well-beaten and historic campsite just above the lake shore.

If you wish, cross the stable log jam at the lake outlet to visit a darker camp under thick canopy. Or, if you are attracted to the challenge of a cold swim, go through the main campsite and follow the boot path directly down to a convenient rock shelf that slopes gently into the water — and then drops off suddenly.

This isn't a very good fishing lake, but it is a breeding ground for extraneous fish hooks, so beware.