Hiked On: January 2, 2005
Weather Conditions: Approximately 15-30°F, beautifully clear skies
Distance from Seattle: 70 miles
Forest Service: Trail #701, Darrington Ranger District
Diann & I picked up this hike also based on a recommendation from the same book as we used in the last several weeks' hikes ( Winter Hikes in Puget Sound & the Olympic Foothills: Mostly Snow-Free Trails from Lowland Forests to Summit Views , ISBN 1570611491). The hike was approximately 4 miles round trip with an additional 0.75 mile loop around the lake. We couldn't have asked for better weather for today's hike — the temperatures were low, but the skies were clear without a cloud in the sky. The trail was in good condition for the most part, but did show some signs of erosion at several points above the 2000' line. At several spots along the trail, there was proof that winter is upon us in the northwest — frozen mud, icy rocks and icy tree roots. Approximately 0.25 miles from the lake, packed snow started to show up occasionally. At the lake itself, approximately 1-2″ of snow surrounded the entire landscape and the lake was frozen over, seemingly solid. The ice over the lake looked approximately 1.5-2″ thick at the lake edges. While we saw sunshine, we were always in the shade of Mount Pilchuck that surrounds the lake on three sides. It took us approximately 1 hour to get to the trailhead from Seattle and about 4 hours of hiking to do the round-trip and the lake loop. Sadly, the Verlot Public Service Center has been closed the last three times we've been up in the Darrington Ranger District — I haven't been able to buy the Green Trails topo maps.