Hike Distance: 9.4 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 933.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1982 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 97725 feet
This trail has been on my radar for a few years but we’ve never gotten the chance to hike on it. I think it’s because of the close proximity to Olallie Lake and the conscious choice to hike the PCT in that region instead. The parking area is not obvious, with only a few places to park, but there is a TH sign slightly off the road on the trail.
The trail starts out ascending rapidly. This trail feels like it’s a stream during the wet season and at snow melt times. The trail also feels like nobody goes on it as the vegetation is encroaching on it in many places, but with few broken branches. We spent some time trimming them so our return wouldn’t be obstructed. There was also a massive amount of blooming Beargrass all over the trail, which added a sweet fragrance to our hike. 🙂
During the ascent you’ll break out into a power line area that has a nice view of the surrounding mountains. This is the only grand view you’ll see on this trail. The trail also goes along a gravel road before getting to the power lines, but I found the signage to be useful.
Once you reach the Red Lake intersection is where the real fun begins. The trail levels out for the next couple miles and you will have the opportunity to see a multitude of spectacular clear lakes. This stretch of the trail reminds us of Indian Heaven Wilderness, as there are a multitude of lakes on a plateau, and I would call this place a hidden gem! We only saw two groups of two people during this entire hike. A group of two very nice gentlemen were seen at Averill Lake, and we talked with them for a while. We also noticed a huge number of those small blue needle-sized dragonflies on the grasses growing out of Averill Lake. It was a beautiful sight! At Sheep Lake we admired a view of Olallie Butte in the background, which was gorgeous!
We kept seeing lake after beautiful lake for the next couple of miles, until we reached an intersection where we turned right (south) to head toward the PCT. At this intersection we met a very nice couple and their dog: Kari, Alberto and their dog Sebastion! We had a very nice talk with them!
After the intersection the trail ascends, and is in rather poor condition for much of this section. This section feels like your hiking up a stream bed. We finally reached the PCT intersection, and bumped into a couple of woman that were hiking a very small section. They were swatting at mosquitoes and then put on some repellent. Until this intersection we hardly noticed the mosquitoes, but then left quickly to get away from them.
Our outbound hike to the PCT was so slow, due to stopping to admire and take pictures, that we had to head back quickly to avoid driving out in the dark. This is a fantastic trail and we definitely intend on returning to this area ASAP. 🙂