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Lake Julius and Loch Eileen

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Lake Julius and Loch Eileen, along with nearby Lakes Ethel and Donald, comprise Washington's famed Scottish Lakes. Named by A. H. Sylvester (see "Sly Sylvester" in the Lake Wenatchee section) for various acquaintances, none of whom hailed from Scotland, the surrounding boggy and meadowed high slopes do, however, bear a slight resemblance to the Scottish moors. Easily reached from High Camp, Julius and Eileen extend a hearty fáilte to all hikers, young and old alike.

From High Camp take the Summer Trail, which takes off from behind the main lodge and immediately enters national forest land. Come to a junction with the Sunset Trail at 0.2 mile and continue right. Through cool forest, the Summer Trail quickly gains elevation. At 0.5 mile veer right onto the Low Road Trail and follow it for 0.5 mile to its end at the McCue Ridge Trail (elev. 5600 ft). Left heads up and over McCue to Chiwaukum and Larch lakes. Go right.

Soon come to a signed junction. The way right is the old Roaring Creek Trail that once traveled for miles through unbroken forest to the Nason Creek valley. It became a logging casualty in the 1980s. Continue left through pleasant old growth. Cross a small creek and slowly descend, coming to the end of a logging road at 1.75 miles (elev. 5350 ft). The logging road offers a 1.5-mile, slightly easier alternative route back to High Camp.

The trail veers back into the forest, where it continues to descend. Soon after entering the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the way bottoms out along Roaring Creek, which lets out nary a growl here within a peaceful flat (elev. 5150 ft). After carefully crossing the creek on a set of logs that shift each year, reach a junction. The trail right leads 2.5 lonely and scenic miles to Lake Ethel.

Take the more boot-beaten path left, reaching Lake Julius (elev. 5200 ft) in a mere 0.25 mile (2.5 miles from your start). A shallow lake ringed with handsome forest and a rugged backdrop of McCue Ridge, it's a pleasant destination for picnicking or for calling it a day. If intent on seeing Eileen, however, continue. Skirt Julius's shoreline, and then climb a series of ledges to reach the bowl-bound Loch Eileen at 3.5 miles (elev. 5508 ft).

Fed by waterfalls tumbling over steep headwalls and surrounded by rocky slopes and groves of larches, Eileen sits in a dramatically different environment than its lower cousin Julius. Particularly striking in autumn, Eileen also has a nice appeal during hot summer days, when shoreline ledges invite foot-soaking.
Driving Directions:

From Everett head east on US 2 for 65 miles to Stevens Pass. Continue east for another 17 miles to Nason Creek Rest Area. Directly across from the rest area, turn right onto Coulter Creek Road. Cross railroad tracks and turn right into the parking lot for Scottish Lakes High Camp. Take the shuttle to the trailhead located at High Camp (elev. 5000 ft). The shuttle and a cabin stay require advance reservations.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 7 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Lake Julius and Loch Eileen — Oct 10, 2011 — geezerhiker
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes
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My wife and I rented a cabin at Scottish Lakes High Camp about 17 miles west of Leavenworth at an al...
My wife and I rented a cabin at Scottish Lakes High Camp about 17 miles west of Leavenworth at an altitude of 5,000'. We stayed three days. It rained and snowed the first two days, but we hiked anyway and enjoyed beautiful rainbows at Wedding Point and Glacier Peak View Point during sunbreaks. The last day I arose before dawn and hiked up the High Country trail to Lake Julius and Loch Eileen. The sunrise was spectacular. There was an inch of snow at Julius and four inches of snow at Eileen. There are larch at the lakes, but they have yet to reach full color. Oh, when you hike the Lake Eileen trail and reach a creek where there is no way to cross, bear right about 50 yards and cross on the log jams.

There are many trails and good viewpoints around High Camp, which, unfortunately, has had its surrounding area clear cut. This makes the camp better suited to skiers than hikers. But when you hike away from the camp into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the scenery is great. Be sure to get a wilderness permit from the Camp.

I hiked with an umbrella for the first two days to keep my camera dry while taking pictures. It worked well. I'm now including a small travel umbrella in my day pack.
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Lake Julius and Loch Eileen — Dec 25, 2009 — Trail Pair
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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Scottish Lakes High Camp is a quaint village of about 8 rustic cabins with a small lodge. It is loca...
Scottish Lakes High Camp is a quaint village of about 8 rustic cabins with a small lodge. It is located just east of the Chiwaukum Moutains at the 5,000ft. level. Transportion is provided with SUV and snowmobiles to the camp.

Wow, did we get lucky! Not only was there a cabin available Dec. 25th and 26th, but we had perfect weather and snow conditions. After arrival to the lodge on Christmas day we did a short snowshoe trip on McCue Ridge. We had lovely views both directions. Then on Saturday we chose a little longer trip. We snowshoed from High Camp to Lake Julius, then on to Lock Eileen. We then climbed the ridge just SE of the lake until we reached our turn around time. This was at a little knoll at the 6,700 ft. level. About a mile away was a high point called "Baldy", which is HP 7132 on the National Geographic Topo. If we had started an hour earlier we could have made it to Baldy, and even more spectacular views!

This is a great area for snowshoeing or skiing, although there were also families with small children staying at High Camp for sledding, etc. The whole trip was a lot of fun!
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Larch Lake, Lake Julius and Loch Eileen, Lake Donald, Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass, West — Sep 07, 2009 — Big Pants Trekkers
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Fall foliage | Ripe berries
Issues: Water on trail
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For our Big Pants Trekkers annual backpack this year we decided to take it a wee bit easy. We still ...
For our Big Pants Trekkers annual backpack this year we decided to take it a wee bit easy. We still wanted to be out for four nights, but we didn't feel up to a long slog, long travel time, or huge elevation gain. So we decided to let the Scottish High Camps give us a lift, literally up to their camp at 5000' near the Scottish Lakes in the Central Cascades.

The Scottish High Camp is our kind of place and we are their kind of people. We figured that out right away. Don and Chris are the consummate hosts, with special treats, stories, the outdoor wood-fired hot tub, hot cocoa and coffee, and lots of advice and information on local hiking. After a rainy Labor Day weekend spent playing games in the lodge over fresh baked cookies, popcorn, and our own great meals, we decided to get out and hike.

On Monday we started out just after noon in the rain to Lake Donald. The trail starts right from High Camp, heading first up the ridge to the trailhead, then into the woods and down again to Lake Julius which is a pretty, wooded lake about 2.5 miles from High Camp. The trail works around Lake Julius and starts climbing a bit to Loch Eileen, which is a bit more alpine than Julius, sitting in a rocky basin with huckleberry fields mixed in with the trees. We didn't take much time at either lake as it was pouring rain and we just wanted to get to camp. The only good side to the rain: mushrooms, crazy mushrooms everywhere, with variety, size and quantity we have never seen before.

From Loch Eileen, the trail crosses the outlet stream then turns into a rough way trail for the final 1/2 mile and 500' push to Lake Donald, a total of four miles from High Camp. In the rain, this section of way trail was a slippery and muddy mess, alternating between straight-up and rooty from the huckleberries, and areas of slick granite to scramble up any way you can. We made it, and found a campsite near the outlet stream just big enough for our three tents. We put up tents and dove in for the night, with the rain turning into snow and all of us soaking wet beyond our ability to stay out and make a proper dinner. We ate cheese and crackers and ended up turning in for the night - at 5 p.m.!

Good thing we awoke to fine weather on Tuesday (and for the rest of the week), or we might have had an aborted hike. We were not planning to move camp, so we explored the meadows above Lake Donald almost to Tamarack Peak, trying to find signs of a way trail over McCue Ridge that Don and Chris told us about. It's an offtrail/unmapped shortcut to the Chiwaukum Trail, our destination for Wednesday. After a few hours of pleasant exploration which took us up into some snowy meadows from Monday's storm, we decided that with full packs we had better stick to the regular trail on Wednesday. Tons of ripe berries, especially in the upper meadows, you could have rolled in them. I was surprised we didn't see any bears.

Because we didn't want to risk the shortcut with full packs, on Wednesday morning we headed back the way we came, losing elevation all the way past Eileen and Julius only to head back up again to ascend McCue Ridge. From the grassy ridge you can see lots of mountains, I wish I had brought more GreenTrails maps so that I could see what they were. From McCue Ridge, the trail descends again to mile-long Chiwaukum Lake which had a fine campsite right at the junction of the McCue and Chiwaukum trails. We kept going ascending again to beautiful Ewing Basin, and finally to Larch Lake, about seven miles from Lake Donald.

Note: there was a beehive right in the middle of the trail between Ewing Basin and Larch Lake, when you stop going up the steep switchbacks and the trail levels out a bit just before you come into the Larch Lake basin. Keep your eyes open, there's plenty of opportunity to back up and go around it by walking through the meadows to the right of the trail.

The Larch Lake basin was beautiful, and it was all ours. We couldn't believe that we hadn't seen a single other hiker so far. Unreal. We found a good camp left of where the trail enters the basin, but there were many smaller one-tent sites tucked away into the benches around the meadows and tarns. Gentian and berries galore. Larches might turn early, a couple of them were showing signs of turning.

Thursday we hiked to Cup Lake and two of our party were nearly able to ascend the ridge over Cup Lake. We weren't sure if they were heading the exact correct direction to Deadhorse Pass, they went straight when they crossed the outlet and basically went straight up that rock outcropping. They came just twenty or so feet shy of the ridge before deciding that the rock was too loose and exposure too great to continue. Upon heading back to Larch Lake on Thursday afternoon we saw a couple dayhikers and also a couple other backpackers come in, the first other people we'd seen since Monday.

Friday we hiked out the six miles back to High Camp, down to Chiwaukum and back up McCue Ridge, then finally back down to High Camp where they were waiting to give us a ride down the hill to our cars, and hamburgers at Gustavs. Another great trip. Next year: Teton Crest?
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Larch Lake, Loch Eileen — Sep 30, 2008 — wanderdoc
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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This year we chose High Camp as a base camp for our annual larch trip. We stayed 2 nights and did d...
This year we chose High Camp as a base camp for our annual larch trip. We stayed 2 nights and did day hikes to Loch Eileen/Lake Donald and to Larch Lake. The staff at the camp we're gracious and helpful and the hot outdoor shower and hot tub under a star filled sky made for a relaxing way to end a day of hiking. The trails are all in excellent condition. On each hike there was a stream crossing which required a short detour and some boulder hopping or crossing a log jam. Not a problem this time of year. The larches are colorful, but not yet at their peak. They we're a mixture of lime green and pale yellow. Lots of red huckleberries and vine maples. The area around and above Lake Donald was alive with a variety of colors. Ewing Basin was a spectacular open valley in full technicolor and Larch Lake was quite beautiful. We we're sorry that we we're not prepared to spend the night at the lake and had to to start back by 4 PM to reach High Camp before dark.
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Loch Eileen #1584.1 — Oct 04, 2003 — Ncwmallard
Day hike
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Hiked up to Lake Julius, Loch Eileen and Lake Donald from the High Camp at Scottish Lakes. The weat...

Hiked up to Lake Julius, Loch Eileen and Lake Donald from the High Camp at Scottish Lakes. The weather was perfect - and so was the scenery. The Larch trees around Lake Donald were gorgeous, and the autumn foilage - colored green, gold, scarlet and yellow, was spectacular.

The trail to Lake Julius and Loch Eileen was clear and very well maintained. The scramble/ trail to Lake Donald was clear but intermittent - marked by cairns for those with sharp eyes.

Fishing was good in all three lakes for cutthroat that were caught and released. A perfect way to wrap up the hiking season!

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Loch Eileen by Trail Pair.jpg
Loch Eileen by Trail Pair
Loch Eileen (#1584.1)
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East
Okanogan-Wenatchee Natiomal Forest, Wenatchee River Ranger District, Leavenworth
Roundtrip 7.0 miles
Elevation Gain 1400 ft
Highest Point 5508 ft
Fall foliage
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails Chiwaukum Mtns No. 177

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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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