Mileage: 14.6 RT
Elevation Gain/Highest: 3300/4900ft
Map: Green Trails Skykomish No 175 and Stevens Pass No 176
Favorite Eats After Hike: Wallace Falls Café
7/11/2015 We did this one as a trainer for our Wonderland Trail trip the next week. My friend was just getting back into backpacking and so it was a good way to test out his pack and gear.
The first part of the trail to Trout Lake was level and uneventful and the best part is that huge tree that everyone loves to have their picture taken with, including me! Right before you get to the lake there is evidence of repeated slides from the steep slopes of Malachite on your right. There were a few tents at the lake, there are plenty of good spots for camping.
We continued on around the lake and up towards Copper Lake. Those switchbacks get you climbing and the cascading waterfall from the outlet to the lake meets you at every other turn beckoning you on. Pictures can be hard to get because of trees and brush but the roar is impressive. There was a lovely foot bridge over the outlet of Malachite and then we continued a bit further through the the trees and soon we reached the sign for the junction of Copper and Malachite Lakes.
From there we made it to Copper Lake, crossing over its outlet on large, well spaced boulders but only stopped briefly for a snack as our destination was to Big Heart. I had been here three months before when snow covered the trail and so it was interesting the difference making it around the lake without postholing and fear of slipping down into the icy water. It isn’t that much further to Little Heart (1.3 miles), the trail follows the water flowing between the two lakes. The trail does go through some boulders as you approach Little Heart.
After a few pictures, it was on to Big Heart. Here the trail has some tight switchbacks and hugs the slope, one of the reasons I didn’t go further in my last trip. When we got to the high point 1.1 miles from Little Heart, we took the boot path to the viewpoint and gazed at Delta Lake below. Then it was down some more switchbacks to Big Heart.
The glacial waters here are picturesque and stunning. Even the outlet with its green mossy waterfall was arresting. We wandered the logs and sat for lunch, reluctant to leave. Our trip back repeated our views of this chain of lakes and left me wanting to return to do a backpacking trip of the loop with the East Fork through Necklace Valley.
Directions: Take Hwy 2 to just past the Skykomish Ranger station and turn right on Foss River Road (FR 68). In 2.6 miles cross under the railroad trestle and go over a small bridge. In another mile is a Y intersection, stay right. The left fork goes to the Tonga Ridge Trail. In another 0.6 miles, pass by the TH for the Necklace Valley Trail, and continue on Road 68. In 0.7 miles, be alert for a left turn onto Road 6835. The map makes it look like FR 68 continues to the TH, but it does not. Continue on this rougher FR (6835) for 1.9 miles to reach the TH, for a total of 6.7 miles from HWY 2. At the TH, there is a privy. A NW Forest Pass is required.