Mileage: 8.4 miles RT
Elevation Gain/Highest: 2400ft/3961ft
Map: Green Trails Skykomish No. 175 and Stevens Pass No. 176
Favorite Eats After Hike: Wallace Falls Cafe
4/8&9/2016 This trip report is actually for two, I had so much fun making it up to Copper Lake by myself in the snow the first time I went again with the bf. I wrote more about it in my post, Snowshoes and Snowpeas.
I’ll mention first that the only reason I made it to Copper was because I am familiar with the trail and had a map, snowshoes, spikes and poles. There is still a TON of snow after the log foot bridge and before the junction with Malachite Lake. There is NO trail to follow and deep postholing w/o snowshoes.
I started yesterday at 8:10 and it took about 10 minutes to get through the log jam/landslide on the road. Not bad but tricky with poles and snowshoes on my pack.
The mile road walk to the TH includes a water crossing where there is a concrete reinforcement on the road. It’s a few inches deep and no real way to rock hop.
I made it to Trout Lake by 9:30am, no snow on trail. There is a significant landslide just before the lake, keep to the left as you are so close.
Most of the downed tree gymnastics are between Trout and the exposed switchbacks section. It’s spring so bugs and spiderwebs are back but mostly gnats. At the large downed cedar tree stay right to keep with the trail.
The snow patches are still on the switchbacks but melting fast. Expect postholing. The brush is taking over the trail so maneuvering is necessary. I had just trail runners and poles at this point and didn’t have any problems.
There is a stream crossing before the log foot bridge where the water is coming down over and it is hard to see where to step. Also, a steep snow bank on the other side.
The fun began at the log foot bridge because the snow banks to get up on and off it are 4-5ft high. I put my spikes on to be safe. There were tracks to follow over.
I kept my spikes on and followed foot prints for about 40 ft and then nothing. I had a general direction so I kept going but it wasn’t long before I had to put snow shoes on. The drifts are deep and soft with the sun. Even today, my tracks from yesterday were mostly gone. Between here and the junction I read my map multiple times and basically headed straight up and to the left in the direction I knew it to be in. Amazingly, I came up about 5ft from the sign to Copper.
Here, it took me 3 attempts to make it up to Copper Lake. The first two I strayed left and ended up on snow bridges and what appeared to be a tarn with no safe way to head to the outlet for the lake. On the map it looked like the trail went around this way but nothing looked right with all the snow. I ended up back at the junction on my third try and just went straight up and around the tarn/clearing and ended up at Copper by 12:45 but not via the normal trail so I was counterclockwise a bit from the outlet. It was so gorgeous! I had it all to myself the first time and for the second day we were alone until about 2pm when some other folks came up postholing in our tracks w/o shoes or poles. Yesterday a gentleman I passed going down who had a dog decided to not go past the foot bridge because of the snow bank, no gear and the dog.
Both trips down saw the sun doing it’s work, soft smushy snow and postholing. Each day was about 8 hours from car and back.
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 trailhead 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 trailhead, for a total of 6.7 miles from HWY 2. At the trailhead, there is a privy. A NW Forest Pass is required.