Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hike of the Week : Baker Lake Trail ... or is it the Noisy Creek Trail?


We had hoped to do a looooong hike today up to the Park Butte lookout,  but two things conspired against us.

The smaller reason was that this was our second Summit Simulation weekend, and Saturday's hike was supposed be 3 hours, while Sunday's hike was supposed to be 5 hours. But that doesn't really matter.

The larger, and eventually compelling reason was that there is still a LOT of snow up near Baker, and trail reports mentioned things like "snow bridges" and, well, I don't need that.

But we had managed to secure a campsite for one night in the Panorama Point campground, so we needed something nearby. And while it wasn't going to be particularly challenging, the Baker Lake Trail seemed to fit the bill.

We got up early and hit the road, arriving at the northern trailhead before 9. The road to trailhead -- especially once you get onto the unpaved stretch -- was a little odd, with lots of people camping alongside it. But to each their own.

Also there were lots of people camping at the trailhead, including in the parking lot. Again, odd, but I guess they were still on the lake, right?

We hit the trail around 9am -- it starts out sharing the Baker River Trail through the trees.


We even saw a few people camping just off the trail here, which wouldn't have been ideal, but I guess at night it would be super quiet!


Soon we reached a trail junction and turned left.


We crossed the river on a long, bouncy, suspension bridge.


We lingered a while on the bridge to admire the views of the river.


Later in the day, when we returned to this spot, we saw people enjoying the beach here. I think this is the first time we've seen people who weren't hiking while out hiking. And I think I like it.


 Then we headed off along the trail. We soon crossed a rushing stream on a handsome wooden bridge.



A little farther along the trail, I saw a little nook and hopped into it, saying, "Oh, this looks like where a bear would live!" And then in mid-air I half panicked, because, well, IT LOOKS LIKE WHERE A BEAR WOULD LIVE. But, luckily, the area was vacant.


Wil a little ways up the trail as I quickly emerged from the Bear's Lair, all flustered.


Quick aside: when I was in grad school at Berkeley, the on-campus bar was called the Bear's Lair. Yep, Berkeley had an on-campus bar in the student union. I initiated a weekly happy hour for all the first year history grad students, every Friday at 4. Why at 4? Because that's when the library closed! The Bear's Lair served hard cider, and also offered beer and cider in QUARTS. Yep, 2 pints in one massive plastic cup. Good times.

Speaking of good times, we meandered along the trail, which was described as "busy" but was completely empty while we were going out. For the most part the trail was level, with lots of handsome bridges.


At first we had glimpses of the river and dry river beds, but eventually we climbed into the trees and away from the water.


I loved the otherworldly look of this moss- and root-draped boulder. Feels very Pandora, somehow.


We had seen this trail described as flat, but it was actually pretty rolling. Nothing steep, mind you, but lots of ups and downs.


We crossed another bridge being repaired. Note: this is *not* the Anderson Creek Bridge ... that's at the southern end of the trail, very near that trailhead. Apparently. And as of now, according to WTA.org, it's still out.


This bridge crossed this rushing waterfall -- really glad not to have to cross this at ground level!


There were, however, a couple of crossings to navigate, but nothing major. 



And all the while, we had silence in the green woods.


Wil admired the waterproofing of his Gore-tex boots in this crossing.


 We kept on going for about an hour and a half, seeing no one at all.


We turned down one narrow side path to catch a glimpse of the lake ...


... as well as this sweet campsite in the woods:


From this site on the lake you could get a peek-a-boo view of Baker, too.


But then it was time to head back along the trail.



We stood on this bridge in the sun for a while enjoying the quiet.



Then back across the big suspension bridge -- almost back now.


On the last stretch I noticed this big fella off to the side of the trail -- a huge douglas fir. (I think?) I put Wil in the photo for scale. 


This trail was pure relaxation -- nice and mellow, and quiet if you get there early. In theory one could hike 14.5 miles to the south trailhead, but I wouldn't want to do it as an out-and-back. I can see why people use this as a "beginner's backpacking" destination, too. I'd happily hike this again!


Baker Lake Trail -- from the north side to Noisy Creek

8 miles
1400 feet elevation

No comments: