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Beaver Lake

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An easy hike on an old railroad bed, this oft-overlooked trail serves up plenty of surprises. Travel alongside the Wild and Scenic Sauk River, admiring eagles, mergansers, and kingfishers. Watch dippers flit on river rocks. Listen to thrushes bring the surrounding forest alive in song. Pause on open banks to take in sweeping views of surrounding peaks. Marvel at ancient giant cedars. Locate relics of past logging and railroading activity. And of course enjoy the wildlife-rich wetland known as Beaver Lake.

Starting just above the confluence of the Sauk and White Chuck rivers, the trail dips slightly from the parking lot onto an old logging railway grade. Rotting trestles can be seen just to the right. On a near straightaway, the trail cuts through a thick stand of second-growth hemlocks. In 0.5 mile the trail swings left on a high bank, and the Sauk churns and roars below. Enjoy a good view out to Mount Pugh and the Monte Cristo peaks.

The mighty river has continuously pounded the gravel-layered riverbank, causing portions to slump. Use caution crossing a small section that was battered in the November 2006 storms. Continuing alongside the mighty river, feel its pulse and vibrancy. Pass through a tunnel of alders, their glaucous trunks lighting the way. At 1 mile arrive at a large washout. If tread has been restored, proceed. Otherwise, carefully work your way around the 500-foot storm-ravaged area (on the gravel riverbed if the water level is low or through brush if the water is high), or call it a day and return to your vehicle.

Once beyond the damaged area, the trail resumes its easy course on the old railbed. After passing through skunk-cabbage patches you'll come to a delightful bridge crossing Beaver Lake. Look underneath the span; the bridge was built upon some of the original railroad trestles. The lake, actually an old channel of the river, is a good place to observe wildlife. And while its namesake isn't in abundance here, plenty of aviary residents are.

Beyond Beaver Lake the trail enters an impressive old-growth cedar grove. The trees are remarkable in size and girth, but also in that they were spared the ax. The trail continues for a short way, terminating at an impassable slide on the Sauk. Enjoy lunch at this often sunny spot before retracing your steps on this delightful trail.
Driving Directions:

Take exit 208 off of I-5 and drive 4 miles east on State Route 530 to Arlington. Continue east on SR 530 for 28 more miles to Darrington. At a three-way stop, turn right (south) onto the Mountain Loop Highway and proceed 9 miles to the trailhead, on the right just after you cross the Sauk River.

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 27 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Beaver Lake — Jan 26, 2014 — Muledeer
Day hike
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A nice quiet river ramble, a flat trail along the Sauk river, once the site of an old RR bed. Even t...
A nice quiet river ramble, a flat trail along the Sauk river, once the site of an old RR bed. Even though we saw only older hikers like us, this would be an excellent hike for kids. The trail runs right along the water in a few spots along the way, good for rock throwing. Lots of bridges for trolls to hide under, and Billy Goats Gruff to trample over. The lake is actually more of a big pond and there are a few old beaver dams in the water. The trail is very safe, except there is one small slide with a bit of a dropoff requiring a little caution, right around the remnants of the old RR tracks. The trail ends at the river with a nice lunch log in the sun, and a fine view of peaks. I'm not sure which ones, if somebody recognizes them let me know.(posted pics) Twin Peaks perhaps? We also saw a pair of eagles. There are a couple of trails that go to the river from the parking lot. Locate the trail to the lake in the parking lot by looking for 2 small rocks and a trail in between. You will see the trail sign just down the trail.
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Beaver Lake — Nov 23, 2013 — explorerdogs
Day hike
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After an hour and a half hike on the White Chuck Bench Trail, I drove down the road and lo and behol...
After an hour and a half hike on the White Chuck Bench Trail, I drove down the road and lo and behold right across the HWY was the Beaver Lake Trail Head. Luckily I had cell service so I was able to look this hike up and see that it was an easy 4 mile hike. I had plenty of time and sunshine left so I crossed over, parked and started along this trail. It follows along the Sauk River on an old rail bed and today it was beautiful as well. The ground was still frosty so mud was at a minimum. This was another solitary hike, just me and my dogs on both trails. Beautiful river and mountain views all along the way. The trail is in good condition. Just one section along the river looks a little close to being washed out. Pass by the nearly frozen lake and continue along the trail to the end. It opens up with great views and was a nice spot to soak up some rare November Sunshine.
Two great hikes right next to each other. What could be better on such a terrific Saturday.
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Beaver Lake — Oct 15, 2013 — Jay L
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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After hiking White Chuck Bench I had plenty of time for another hike. Never hiked this before and fo...
After hiking White Chuck Bench I had plenty of time for another hike. Never hiked this before and found the views along the Sauk River outstanding. Beaver Lake wasn't much of a destination hike, but really enjoyed the hike to the lake, fall colors, great views, a great day to be enjoying the outdoors.
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Harold Engles Memorial Cedars, North Fork Sauk Falls, Beaver Lake — Jul 03, 2013 — geezerhiker
Day hike
Issues: Mudholes | Bugs
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I took my wife on three short hikes South of Darrington. The little jaunt down to North Fork Sauk F...
I took my wife on three short hikes South of Darrington. The little jaunt down to North Fork Sauk Falls was a great stop because the flow was the best ever.

The next destination two miles up the road was Harold Engles Memorial Cedars, which are truly impressive trees. There is a loop trail and a loop within the loop that leads to an excellent grove of giant cedars.

The final hike was the Beaver Lake trail. We turned around just after the Beaver pond. There are several good viewpoints along the river.

We capped the day with a picnic at the boat launch on Forest Road 22 beside the Sauk River. What a lovely day to enjoy the great outdoors.

All trails are clear. There are a few muddy places, but no problems otherwise except a few nasty mosquitos and flies.

Happy Fourth of July Hiking,

Geezerhiker

(More pictures below)
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Beaver Lake — Jun 13, 2013 — mtnseeker
Day hike
Issues: Bugs
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Decided to take a drive out on the Mountain Loop. This is a nice quick stop. It's a very nice hike s...
Decided to take a drive out on the Mountain Loop. This is a nice quick stop. It's a very nice hike similar to Lime Kiln, but much shorter. One important note: there is no grand lake; the destination is essentially a large beaver pond/marsh/lake--the trail keeps on going through the beaver area until the river so it is not entirely obvious that the area with the beaver dams is the destination.
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Beaver Lake.jpg
Photo by Big Rudy.
WTA worked here!
2010, 2011, 2012
Location
Beaver Lake (#629)
North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Statistics
Roundtrip 4.0 miles
Elevation Gain 100 ft
Highest Point 1000 ft
Features
Rivers
Lakes
Old growth
User info
Good for kids
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Sloan Peak No. 111

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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Red MarkerBeaver Lake
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  • Trail Work 2012
  • Trail Work 2011
  • Trail Work 2010
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