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Myrtle Lake

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Myrtle is a quiet lake fringed with evergreens and craggy ridges. Grassy shores along its outlet encourage afternoon napping with their abundant sunshine. The destination is serene, but not so the journey. Dog- and kid-friendly during the week when motorized use is low, this hike is nevertheless a dusty slog. The warm lake waters, however, cleanse grubby legs along with disheartened dispositions.

Beginning in a mature forest of spruce and cottonwood, the near-level dusty path takes off up the Entiat Valley. No longer paralleled by road, the river here is wild, its headwater streams protected within the sprawling Glacier Peak Wilderness. Conservation-minded citizens would do the river and its immediate environs good by demanding that the wilderness border be moved to include all of the remaining roadless parcels surrounding it.

Finally, after about 1.2 miles, the wild Entiat comes into view. On tread sprinkled with soft pumice (thanks to a past eruption from Glacier Peak), the way gently marches up the valley, occasionally dipping slightly to break the monotony. Openings in the pine forest provide views westward and upward to Garland Peak and the Rampart Mountains.

At 2.2 miles reach a junction with the Anthem Creek Trail (elev. 3450 ft), a lonely, steep, and very demanding alternative route to 7819-foot Duncan Hill. About 0.25 mile beyond, cross Anthem Creek on a good bridge. Soon afterward the grade steepens to what amounts to the only real climbing on this hike. Meanwhile, the river has disappeared into a granite-walled gorge.

The way levels once again, coming to a junction at 3.6 miles. The Entiat River Trail continues straight for more than 10 miles to the meadowed basin beneath the glaciers that birth this river. Your objective, much closer, lies left via the Cow Creek Meadows Trail. Follow it, dropping slightly to cross the Entiat on a bridge, and then climb a little through a cool, forested glen to reach the lake (elev. 3765 ft). Motorcycles are not allowed past this point. Just before crossing Myrtle's outlet creek, a side trail takes off left 0.4 mile to busy campsites on the lake's southern shore.

A better option is to proceed forward a couple hundred feet, hopping across the outlet stream to an inviting grassy meadow on the lake's north shore. Wipe the dust off, kick back, and enjoy the serenity.

Driving Directions:

From Wenatchee head north for 15 miles on US 97A to Entiat. (From Chelan head south for 20 miles on US 97A.) Turn left (west) onto the Entiat River Road (Forest Road 51) and proceed 38 miles to Cottonwood Campground and the trailhead just beyond at the road's end (elev. 3150 ft). Privy available.

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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 13 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Myrtle Lake, Entiat River, Larch Lakes (Entiat) — Oct 19, 2013 — Putz-in-Boots
Overnight
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Snow on trail
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This is the "other Larch Lakes". There are two, one being Larch Lake (Hwy 2 Chiwaukum Mtns). This on...
This is the "other Larch Lakes". There are two, one being Larch Lake (Hwy 2 Chiwaukum Mtns). This one is Larch Lakes...the one accessed from all the way at the end of the long 38 mile Entiat River Road. The spur trail up to Larch Lakes begins at Trail #1404 and ends at Trail #1430 and is a hiker only trail.

The weather was looking good...too good to pass up one more trip to see some larches. What better place that a place called Larch Lakes. It sounded even more appealing since I've never been there before.

I headed out solo, leaving town (north of Seattle) early but not too early. Yes, a long drive...Google Maps said 4.25hr from my house but it only took 3.5hr. I only needed to hike the 8 miles in, one way. I wasn't sure if I'd have company on the trail. I knew the area was big with hunters this time of year so I figured I'd at least be sharing a trail with them.

I headed out as light as I could. I thought of leaving the stove at home but decided to throw it in the pack at the last minute for warm drinks at night and in the morning. Good choice.

I drove first to Wenatchee and then headed up 97A to Entiat turning left (west) onto Entiat River Rd. The road is in good shape and is paved nearly the whole way to the end...38 miles up valley. I pulled into the TH parking area, hung my pass and sat on the bumper to put my hiking boots on. A hunter hiked out and we chatted a bit. He told me earlier that day a few bears were spotted up the first few miles of the trail. Hmmm...interesting. Just as we finished chatting, a Subaru pulled up with two more hikers. A really nice couple, Les and Lorraine. We hit it off right away and decided to combine our groups (am I a group if I'm a party of one?) and headed up the trail.

The Entiat River Trail #1400 is pretty flat. Bits of ups and downs along the way but like most river trail...there would be a time I'd have to pay the piper.

We reached the junction for the Myrtle Lake trail #1404 and headed up. There is quite the interesting bridge crossing. A really nice span has a huge tree that pierced the decking. A clear puncture. It looks to have missed the load bearing iron structure and with a bit of work to remove the tree and replace some shattered decking...the bridge should be good as new.

At the outlet to Myrtle Lake the trail heads north and continues up to Cow Creek Meadows. Instead of heading up to the meadows, to took the trail that parallels the Entiat River, there is a junction for this hiker only trail just after the Myrtle Lake outlet. The connector trail meets up with the Larch Lakes Spur trail at about 5.4mi from the TH and at about 3865' elev. From here the spur trail heads steeply uphill.

Some time around noon, with the warming temps, we decided to find a nice sunny spot and eat lunch. Wow...lots and lots of fall color...and all of us were amazed by the number and variety of mushrooms.

At about 6.4mi (4680') we reached the bottom of a set of steep switchbacks. Time to change into short sleeve shirts. Weird...snow a few weeks ago and now we were hiking in temps that felt more like August instead of mid October. At about 7.3mi (5438') the switchbacks start to peter out. We hit persistent snow at about 5500'. At about 7.6mi (5650') we reached the outlet end of Lower Larch Lake and a beautiful snow covered meadow surrounded by larch trees. There was about a foot of snow in the sun coated meadows. Parts of the trail were melting out. I'm guessing with another week of good warmish temps, the trail will melt out quite well.

At the far end of the meadow we were back in the trees and deeper, crustier snow. At about 8mi (5760') we reached the outlet of the Upper Larch Lake nearly surrounded by snow. Several friends had day hiked the area the previous day and said there were a few snow free campsites. Another friend had gone up Pomas Pk and camped at the lakes and said the same. We dropped out packs, poked around, and found a perfect spot.

We set up tents, got ourselves settled, and then poked around the lakes taking photos and then as the sun set and the full moon rose, we settled in around a campfire talking the night away. Finally tired, sometime around 9pm, we retreated to tents.

Morning came but no one was in a rush to leave. I couldn't believe it was just the three of us up at the lakes. Why...it's not a hard hike...all I could figure is that the recent snows kept more hikers away.

Finally, sometime around 11am we were packed and ready to hike out. We took the same route out. It felt warmer this second day than the first. I left camp in shorts and short sleeves and I was roasting. We arrived back at the TH around 2:30pm, we traded emails promising to try to meet up for future hikes, and then it was time for the long....long...long...drive home.

Really great time.

More photos here: http://www.putz-in-boots.com/[…]/larch_lakes_tr.html

Stats: 16.3mi, 3332' gain (round trip).
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Myrtle Lake — Jun 22, 2013 — Nathaniel
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes | Water on trail
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Made a plan change so we started this one a little late and turned around before the lake. Which was...
Made a plan change so we started this one a little late and turned around before the lake. Which was aok as it was raining and the hike itself is awesome!

The first climb up remained fairly dry- with a couple patches of dampness... but nothing to complain about. There are some flowers, budding ferns, and mushrooms to gaze at also.

The rain started right after the climb up and by the Goat Creek crossing... it was quite a consistent mist that was able to dampen up the underbrush and dirt(mud). All of the creeks from Goat Creek on were fairly swollen and were more difficult to pass because of it... so be warned that they can be a bit tricky and possibly damp!

There are a couple blowdowns along the way- there are fairly easy methods to get past them- the more challenging one is near the waterfall (about 1.2-1.5mi in) But there is a fairly easy way over the top of it as well.

Other than that- this trail is awesome and I plan on coming back when I have a little more time and when the crossings are nicer.
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Myrtle Lake — May 24, 2013 — linseyis
Overnight
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Bridge out | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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A quick 4 miles in over some snow and many fallen trees--none impassible. We snagged the front camps...
A quick 4 miles in over some snow and many fallen trees--none impassible. We snagged the front campsite on a holiday weekend, and there were only two other groups at the far end of the lake--this is certainly the time of year to do this trail: no mozzies, motos or manure pies! The bridge from Entiat River trail over the river to Larch Lakes trail is washed out. Trillium flowers emerged between when we arrived and when we left.
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Myrtle Lake — Aug 17, 2012 — shaunna
Day hike
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we started at 8:30 in the Morning. The weather was warm and sunny, but there is a lot of shade on th...
we started at 8:30 in the Morning. The weather was warm and sunny, but there is a lot of shade on the trail. we had no Mosquito's at all. we probably bumped into 10 people also hiking. we arrived at Myrtle lake around 11:00 ish. we stopped on the first side of the Lake for awhile then continued to the other side were there are camp grounds. as you are Hiking to the far end there is a log that sticks way out into the water, you can walk down there and Jump in but be careful and smart about it, we had a blast doing that. We Hiked out the same day, but going back to stay over night next time. I loved the hike and its beautiful. We took several kids and our Miniature Australian Dog with us.
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Myrtle Lake — Jun 28, 2012 — Shannon
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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We left from the Cottonwood Campground around 9.30am. It was clear and despite early chill the weat...
We left from the Cottonwood Campground around 9.30am. It was clear and despite early chill the weather was quite hot along the route. I walked with two boys (5 and 10 years) and a miniature dachshund and they found the slowly climbing grade and frequent creek crossings interesting and exciting (although the dog didn't talk much).

Many wildflowers were in bloom, deer crossed the path and the occasional views to the river and gorge were exciting. The trail was in good repair and there was evidence of both horse and motorbike use although we saw no other hikers during our 6 hours on the trail.

We found Myrtle Lake beautiful BUT TAKE BUG SPRAY AS THERE ARE TERRIBLE MOSQUITOS!!! There were no campers visible although on our return we met a couple of fishermen heading up to spend 3 nights there. The Lake has many logs around the shore which make access to the water difficult. It is still very beautiful.

Near the lake there were still patches of snow in shade by the trail. It was not in the least cold.

We took a quick dip in the icy Lake and left due to the SWARMS OF mosquitos.

The creek crossings are all easy despite the high water levels (logs and stones did not require boot removal!)
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myrtle lake - marie.jpg
Myrtle Lake. Photo by Marie.
Location
Myrtle Lake (#1404)
Central Cascades -- Entiat Mountains
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Entiat Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain 650 ft
Highest Point 3765 ft
Features
Rivers
Lakes
Mountain views
Wildlife
Established campsites
User info
May encounter mountains bikes
May encounter motorized vehicles
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails Lucerne No. 114

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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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