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Lake Laura Backdoor

A short, beautiful, but very steep trail to Lake Laura and Lake Lillian. Gets you there in a quarter of the time, but breathing just as hard.

The road to the trailhead is drivable in a normal-clearance vehicle, with care. Forest Service is clearly doing some (minimal) maintenance. There is some brush that will touch your care, but no scratches.

The trail itself starts out in heavy brush, but the thread is obvious. It crosses a minor creek, and starts the climb.

The climb is very steep (fisherman's path), really class 2. On the way down, you will have to use your hands at least once. BE CAREFUL!!!

However, the trail is in great shape, very clear at all times, and free of debris.

In about a mile, you get to Lake Laura, small but pretty. The trail continues to the right, and in another half a mile, arrives at Lake Lillian, medium-sized and very pretty.

Rough(er) trail continues to Rampart Lakes, skirting lake Lillian on the left.

All in all, a superb way of getting to Lake Lillian, much prettier (and shorter) than the road-walk-then-clearcut official trail.

Driving Directions:

Drive I-90 East to Hyak (exit 54). Cross under the freeway, turn right onto NF-4832 (paved). Continue until the pavement ends and the road turns uphill. Drive to the fourth sharp turn (switchback), where road NF-136 branches off to the left. Continue on NF-136, keeping right at a fork. At the first sharp right turn (horseshoe bend), there is a parking lot. Park here. The trail starts form the parking lot.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 11 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Lake Laura Backdoor — Nov 01, 2013 — Nathaniel
Day hike
Issues: Mudholes | Water on trail
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Started out at about 10:30 and it was quite chilly! As the day warmed up- there were some nice momen...
Started out at about 10:30 and it was quite chilly! As the day warmed up- there were some nice moments of sunshine and thankfully... no snow! The lake itself has some snow up on the walls overlooking the lake- but nothing bad yet. The waterfalls were gorgeous also- not a huge flow off them, but that wasn't a bad thing in this case.
 After walking to the top of the falls I decided to hop on up on the other side of the lake to Rampart Ridge. The snow is patchy after crossing to the Northern side- some snow walking was required on the path, but nothing crazy. I turned back before Rampart as I was running out of time, but I still enjoyed the high meadows up there. I am guessing that this trip will be the last time I hit that elevation until the snow clears next year, and I am very thankful that I was able to get up there this late in the season!
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Twin Lakes and Lake Lillian, Lake Laura Backdoor — Oct 13, 2013 — Old Rod
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Blowdowns
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We headed to the backdoor going to Lake Lillian, but our goal was only Lake Laura. The backdoor is ...
We headed to the backdoor going to Lake Lillian, but our goal was only Lake Laura. The backdoor is a couple miles down forest road 136, instead of going to the Lake Margaret/Twin lakes/Lake Lillian route. This route is fairly step but quite doable..

We found just a little snow near the lake. The trail was in pretty good shape for being step. Note, near the lake we encountered a wasp nest on the trail, but due to the recent cold weather, the wasps were inactive.

We were surprised to observe 4 different gliders drifting around the Ramparts. First time we have seen hang gliders at the pass.
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Lake Laura Backdoor, Rampart Lakes, Alta Mountain — Jul 30, 2013 — AlpineLakesSpeedPika
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Bugs
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So on Tuesday my buddy Pat picked me up and we headed out to summit Alta via the Laura Lake Back...
    So on Tuesday my buddy Pat picked me up and we headed out to summit Alta via the Laura Lake Backdoor. While we had no trouble finding the trailhead we just as easily could have missed it.
    Take exit 52 and continue heading east through the pass until the exit 54 ramp where you go left under the freeway overpass and then take an almost immediate right towards Gold Creek Trailhead. This is Road 4832. When the road begins to climb via switchbacks take your second left onto dirt. This is now Road 136. Once on this road take your second right and then continue until you reach a hairpin turn that goes hard right. The trailhead/parking is at the apex of this turn.
    The trail is east to spot from here and the first half a mile is a tunnel of foliage though its wide enough to pass through without being touched. After this short initial portion the trail suddenly ascends rapidly turning into true class two.
    After several hundred vertical feet you will reach a small wooded flat portion with a trail on your left which leads down hill to the hidden Lake Laura or a trail to your right which leads to Lillian (CAUTION: On the way back to your care make sure that when you get back to this clearing you stay to the right otherwise you'll hook up with the Lake Lillian trail which parallels the Lake Laura Backdoor). Continue on to Lillian and once you get to the lake you will see a trail to your right that traverses the East bank.
     Continue along this trail and out of the lake basin which leads down to a much smaller lake. Here there is a "Y" in the trail. Left goes to another small lake and then onto Rampart Ridge while heading right continues on to Rampart Lakes.
     Since Alta was our goal we went right and soon dropped down into the Rampart basin and the first and largest of it amazing lakes. We breezed right by the lakes knowing we would stop on the way back.
     This is the important part if you want to go to Alta. There are more single track trails and game trails than you can count and its easy to get off course. In fact you are almost guaranteed to get off course. The nice thing is that Alta is right in front of you and the trail there literally goes right over the ridge that leads to the summit. If the trail you are following begins to wander east or west off the ridge then either back track and find the correct trail or carefully bushwhack back up to the spine of the ridge.
     Soon the vegetation vanishes and you are in an alpine wonderland of green and flowers. I almost expected Yul Brynner to appear from behind a bush. Single track and a short scramble bring you to the summit from here.
    The summit has some of the best views I've encountered in this region yet due to its very mellow approach, it lacks that true summit feel. That and there an obscenely large superfluous cairn on the summit. Whatevers.
     We enjoyed the summit and then ran back to the car taking the same rout and only briefly stopping for a quick dip in one of the many Rampart lakes. The water was surprisingly comfortably warm which while nice was a bit troublesome considering this was a snow fed alpine lake.
     All in all this was an awesome day in the mountains so have fun, be safe, pack light, and travel fast. See ya!
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Rampart Ridge- Back Door, Lake Laura Backdoor — Jun 16, 2013 — alwdave
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail
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Found a snow-free and decently maintained road up to the Lake Laura Backdoor trail head for Sunday's...
Found a snow-free and decently maintained road up to the Lake Laura Backdoor trail head for Sunday's solo hike. Having toured and skied up to Muir Camp on Rainier on Saturday my legs were actually feeling surprisingly good. Proceeded up the steep climb to Lake Laura where I hit spotty snow while following the trail to Lillian. Lillian was still completely frozen over and from this point on the entire hike was on snow.

Having lost the trail under the snow, I followed my instincts from here (with just a tad bit of help from my iphone Topo Maps app). I circumnavigated around the East side of Lillian and followed a chute up the NE side of the lake to the saddle. This was an easy route in snow, but once it melts out it will be a lot hairier. Saw some mountain goats along the NW ridge above the lake. Having gained the saddle a beautiful view opened up to West Fork Box Canyon, Box Ridge, Chikamin and Four Brothers.

From the Saddle I traversed East until gaining the Rampart Ridge high point 5870' and....WOW! What an impressive ridge this is! I sat down and had lunch under the sun in 70 degree weather with a 1200' vertical drop 2 feet from my butt. Beautiful views up and down the Gold Creek Valley. PCT looks to be melting out along Alaska Mountain, Huckleberry and Chikamin, although the Katwalk still looks pretty socked in. After lunch I continued traversing Rampart Ridge to point 5697' where I saw another group of mountain goats about 1500' below. From here dropped down east and circled Rampart Lakes. The lakes are still frozen over with the entire basin under 4-5 feet of snow. After circling the lakes I worked my way back to the Lillian Chute and followed my tracks back out.

Overall this was a great hike. Obviously snow is a bit of an issue, but I actually enjoyed it better working over snow. Makes for softer impact and more direct routes. Once past Lillian I saw no one else and no other tracks. Wouldn't be surprised if I were the first back to Rampart Lakes/Ridge this spring.

Final Stats:
8.0 miles
3242' vertical

Equipment needed:
Mountaineering Boots
Ice Axe
Trekking Poles
Didn't need the crampons
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Lake Laura Backdoor — Sep 11, 2012 — BigButtDon
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Fall foliage | Ripe berries
Issues: Blowdowns
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This is a worthy hike. After a failed attempt last week with Geezerpal Larry via the Margaret Lake ...
This is a worthy hike. After a failed attempt last week with Geezerpal Larry via the Margaret Lake trail, we opted for the quick shot to Lillian and the Twin Lakes via the Lake Laura backdoor. An excellent decision. The WTA trail description and directions are spot on. The first 400 yards of the trail is brushy which provided a nice washdown with 38 degree dew if you need a waker-upper. Put yer legs in 4WD cuz its straight up after that but on a trail that is in very good shape. There is one spot above Laura Falls where we needed the assistance of some tree branches to climb over some rock - a place worthy of some care. Hiking poles did the trick for the balance of the day.
Lake Laura is hiding 300' below the "top of the trail" 1 mile in and is a sweet little spot to linger for some reflection photos. The trail to Lillian is off to the right and intersects the path south to Twin Lakes about 250' below Lake Lillian. There is no marker but the trail branch south is obvious. We continued up to Lillian and pondered the fine scenery all by ourselves till another solo hiker came up behind us headed for Rampart Lakes. He proceeded to climb around a large rock to the right that looked a little nasty in order to hit the trail up to Rampart Ridge. We later found a trail from an obvious campsite just off to the right of the approach to Lillian that looked a bit safer - also provided a nice "aerial view" of the lake - see photo.
We backtracked down the trail to the southbound intersection a rollercoaster ride .8 miles to Twin Lakes. These lakes actually lie only 250' below Lillian. It took us an hour to hike this trail leg which is rough with rock and roots but a large part of that time was spent gawking at the views and me wondering when we would ever get off that mountain face. We had Twin Lakes all to ourselves for lunch. Nice level place, no bugs and the meadow foliage starting to turn color. I tested the shallow waters for temperature which rapidly cooled by interest in taking a dip. Took us only a half hour to hike back to the intersection and then start down toward Laura and the trailhead. I managed to slip at least 5 times on wet roots that were buried under a half inch of nice, soft pine needles which were easily displaced by my boot supporting 280lbs of Grade A beef - a caution to those similarly configured.
Total mileage for the day was 4.2 and total elevation gains were 2257' courtesy of Larry's IPAD running $2.99 NatGeo software integrating on the accelerometer. Not bad for a visit to 4 lakes on a perfect day.
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Rocky Run Creek few hundred yards up from the parking area. photo by Adam Soule ©2010-2012
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Roundtrip 3.0 miles
Elevation Gain 1000 ft
Highest Point 4800 ft
Old growth
Mountain views
Established campsites

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