40 » Backcountry
Bullitt Fireplace. Photo by Sarah Kirkconnell.
January + February 2010 » Washington Trails
toilet, then a wood bridge. Just after the bridge is a faint, unmarked trail going uphill. In fact, there are several faint trails evidenced only by the relatively thicker collection of autumn detritus and the occasional pink ribbons. There is a Wild Sky Wilderness sign and thankfully little undergrowth. In general, keep the gur- gling creek to your right and climb steeply. Eventually the various traces come together to ascend the first big rockslide. Follow the cairns. The way is steep, gnarly, and occasionally overgrown with young trees and nasty sticker bushes.
Finally we arrived at a pleasant flat meadow at the base of the second rockslide. The trail is easier to find and navigate here because it goes up the right-hand side through the trees. At the top is little Stone Lake which already has a veneer of ice. From here the trail contours easily around the west side of the lake and down to Eagle Lake. We did not get beyond Stone Lake because it was already getting late. It is 8.5 miles round trip to Eagle Lake from the trailhead with 1,700 feet elevation gain—most of that in the cruel mile up to Stone Lake.
7 Barclay Lake, Heybrook
Lookout Green Trails Monte Cristo 143, Index 142
November 2, 2009 by Donald Shank
Barclay Lake and Heybrook Lookout are only a few miles apart, and they share more than geographic proximity. They are also both great hikes to take novices and your nonhiking friends on. They are short, easy trails with no significant obstacles, but with wonderful scenic
Barclay Lake is an almost level (50 feet elevation gain), well- maintained trail that is as water and mud free as any trail in Western Washington can be in November. Since the old-growth forest I remember walking through as a child was logged most of the way to the lake, you can use the walk to explain the difference between an inten- sively managed (i.e., clearcut) tree farm and a natural forest,
which you encounter as you near and walk along the lake. Trees were replanted along the trail over 40 years ago, but the understory is still a biological desert, except for the wood fiber. Plenty of sticks, cones and needles carpet the “forest” floor, but little else. The almost total lack of understory diversity gives meaning to the otherwise oxymoronic phrase “can’t see the forest for the trees.”
As you are just about in sight of the lake you come across an area opened by a small rockslide and get your first real glimpse of the towering vertical wall of Mount Baring to your right. Look to your left for a view of Gunn Peak, source of the rocky rubble on which you stand. For the best view of the lake, keep following the trail to the lake’s infall creek, then duck under some thorny shrubs to a small opening at the creek’s mouth. Enjoy the trout jumping, rippling the glassy surface.
After this short hike, those who still have some ambition and energy should head to the trailhead for Heybrook Lookout, located about 3.5 miles west on Highway 2, just across from the “Leaving Mount Baker - Snoqualmie Na- tional Forest” sign. It’s only 1.3 miles to the top, but the elevation gain is 850 feet, which can be challenging for those not used to walking more than the width of a mall parking lot. Most of that gain comes in the first half of the ascent, so gently prod your novices with the occasional “one step at a time” or “we’re getting close now,” and as the grade becomes gentler they’ll feel as if they’ve hit their stride. Before you know it you come to an opening with Mount Index and Bridal Veil Falls to your right and the lookout rising from the peak to your left, just a few feet away.
There are seven flights of stairs (68 feet) to the top of the observation platform, from which the views unfold. South is Index, east is the Skykomish River valley winding its way between the mountains towards Stevens Pass, and to the left of that are Mount Baring and Gunn Peak, flanking the valley you just hiked to get to Barclay Lake. Kids’ faces will light up when they recognize it, a satisfied “I did that!” look on their faces.