The sign above is at least 67 years old since the name changed from Chelan National Forest to Okanogan National Forest in 1955!
Keyla and I were lucky to get out for another overnighter this week. While originally planning to go to Slate Lake (watching the snow level rise and seeing the trails melt out!) we decided to avoid the steep 1200m climb and instead try something less demanding – but also new to us. North Lake Trail turned out to be a great option with a continuous, yet never steep climb.
After driving to the end of Twisp River Road, we parked at Gilbert trailhead, signed into the trail register and started the trail. The lower part of the trail burned in the 2018 fire so there are better views now but also more exposure.
We started out mostly high above the roaring North Creek but got closer to it later-on.
After entering the wilderness area, we got to the half way point where North Creek needs to be forded.
From trail reports I knew to hike up the creek a bit to a wider section that made crossing easier. I even took my shoes off and switched to slippers, and together Keyla and I easily crossed the creek.
Looking back, Reynolds Peak dominated the bright blue sky.
The trail had started out pretty narrow with often significant brush …
… but after the creek, it was mostly in the trees, wide and pine needle covered. My favorite type of trail!
Unfortunately the creek crossing also marked the end of the logging/maintenance of the trail and we encountered blowdowns from then on. However, most of them were easy to navigate or even step over.
We passed a smaller lake in a beautiful meadow, with Gilbert Mountain in the background.
Getting closer to North Lake, the snow covered slopes rose steeply and even on the trail we were now mostly walking on snow (maybe the last mile or so).
Finally we arrived at North Lake and encountered a woman and her daughter, the only other people we saw all day. They were heading back and we had the lake and slopes to ourselves from then on.
There is an open area with the obvious campsites, completely snow free and without any wind or bugs.
Still, a flat site was hard to find and we explored around a bit to find the best. The compromise between camping near the water is always that it creates more condensation in the tent but since we could dry gear out back home the next day I wasn’t too worried.
Watching the sun disappear slowly and the top of the mountain range illuminate in orange light was gorgeous!
Keyla settled in front of the tent, I into my “bed” and the night passed peacefully. And of course, coffee in the morning after a night in the tent is always the greatest reward!
We hit the return hike around 8am, having taken plenty of time to enjoy our campsite in the morning and the sun cresting the ridges.
Back over a few of the bigger blowdowns and a few melting snow patches … and it only took 2.5 hrs to hike the 9km back to the car. Only met two other hikers about 500m from the parking lot!
North Lake Hike: 9km one way, 665m ascent. July 1/2, 2022.