Recent Trip Reports
Hiked here recently? Submit a trip report!
There are 4 trip reports for this hike.
Wallace Lake - Greg Ball Trail, Jay Lake, Shaw Lake — May 14, 2012 — HikerJim
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Expand report text Hide report textRead full report with photos
Gary, John, and I planned a snow scramble of Navaho Peak. Unfortunately, the Stafford Road was close...
Gary, John, and I planned a snow scramble of Navaho Peak. Unfortunately, the Stafford Road was closed 2 1/2 miles before the trailhead and avalanche danger was extremely high for the weekend. A last minute change was needed. We chose a snow free hike with lots of mileage. Gary and I had done the loop around Wallace Falls and Lake but John had not. I have been to Jay Lake several times. We decided to add that second lake. Since this would be a near 80 degree day the crowds were assured. We chose an early start. We arrived at Wallace Falls State Park around 8:00 am to find a number of cars already there. A few minutes later we were on our way.
I chose to do a figure eight loop. We headed up the old railroad grade. It was sunny and warming fast. Long sleeves and long pants legs did not last long. Just before the Greg Ball Trail we headed down to meet the Woody Trail. We crossed the North Fork of the Wallace River then it was all uphill. A stop at the shelter for photos of the lower falls then back on our way. The sun was awful for photos of the falls but our early visit meant there were no crowds. We saw just a few people. From the middle falls viewpoint we could see a rainbow in the spray below us. After a short break for more photos at the upper falls viewpoint we headed up to the old road above us.
The first half of the route from the viewpoint is barely a boot path. It amazes me that the upper part is built trail while the lower part is hard to find. With 90% of the elevation gain to Wallace Lake out of the way the next 2.3 miles to the lake is an easy walk. When the logging road in the middle was built it was a stark cut. Now brush and trees are growing along the side and it looks much better. At a few boggy spots we found skunk cabbage in bloom. There are still trillium, yellow violets, and bleeding hearts blooming around the loop too. We continued past the Wallace Lake outlet and headed to the other end of the lake. I often hike here in the winter and am slogging in snow around the lake more often than not. It is long gone now.
I expected the inlet creek would be raging but much to my surprise it was dry. We had an easy time walking the creek bed to Pebble Beach. The lake level is high and there are no pebbles showing at this time. We did enjoy a long early lunch here with views down the lake and to a snow covered peak in the distance. A check of the map suggested it was Mt. Index. I pulled out my GPS to find that the map was gone. In fact the screen was frozen. I could turn it off and tried to restart it. That did not work. I took out the batteries and waited. Still not working when I turned it back on. I was afraid it was toast when John suggested taking out the memory card. That did the trick. It was working again. Unfortunately, we now did not have the map. This proved to be a problem a little later.
Not ready to turn back after "only" 6 3/4 miles we headed on to Jay Lake. Crossing the inlet creek can be wet in high water but the parks people have placed big round plastic pots filled with rocks across the creek bed. Not needed this day there are times in the spring they will prove useful. On my first visit to Jay Lake in 1994 we headed up the creek bed and beat brush on the left side of the creek. On my second visit in 2002 I found the old road that makes the walk very easy. The sign says 1 mile to Jay Lake. My GPS says .80 miles. Jay Lake now has a new outhouse, four tent sites, a picnic table chained to a tree, and a bucket on a rope to hang food. A big sign says "Camping Here Allowed By Permit Only". Check with the state park if you want to camp.
Any sensible people would have turned around here. We are not sensible people. We pulled out the paper map and checked the distance to Shaw Lake. I have been aware of Shaw Lake since my first visit to Jay. I was not sure if there was any trail or just how far the old road we took from Wallace Lake would go. Turning around here would give us a 14 mile day. We chose to take a stab at Shaw. It is a little more than a mile from Jay as the crow flies. Trails are rarely that straight.
The good news was that while the old road quickly became filled with salmonberries and assorted sticky brush there was a path carved through it. In short order we reached the creek between Jay and Shaw Lakes. Not too hard to get across with dry feet. On the other side the terrain headed for the sky. Straight up a very steep hillside. We found bits of plastic tape headed up. Off we went. While there is precious little trail or boot path on the climb there is enough tape to keep you heading in the right direction. This is absolutely not a "trail". It is a scrambly route. After about 350' of steep climbing we reached a ridge top. From here the route is a series of paths, road sections, and bushwhacking. Trees have fallen across what might have been easy walking at an earlier time. Again, there is enough plastic tape to never be totally out of sight of the next objective.
We descended a ways to find a lake! Shaw Lake? An old road went around the left side of the lake. We were surprised to find the outlet on this side dropping down to Highway 2 not at the end dropping to Jay Lake. A red flag. With a map on my GPS it would have been easy to pinpoint us and Shaw Lake. We could have taken coordinates from the GPS and plotted them on the paper map. Instead we guessed our route from the terrain and figured that we were at Shaw Lake. We were wrong. When I returned home and downloaded the GPS track it was clear we were at a smaller lake that was not on the paper map. Live and learn. If the road continued in good shape we were about 10 minutes from Shaw lake. Less than half a flat mile.
Our trip back to Jay Lake was much easier as we now knew where the route was. The route was well designed as it follows a narrow ridge top at one point with near vertical drops on both sides. It also crosses a steep slope where the very narrow tread is just enough to safely cross. Back at Jay Lake John and I compared scrapes and cuts. Gary did the bushwhacking route in long pants. An easy .80 miles brought us back to Wallace Lake. We took another long break at Pebble Beach. The sun had moved quite a ways since our earlier stop and there was far less glare. Much better photos. We saw a couple folks rafting on the lake. Not a bad way to spend the warmest day of the year so far.
So much of this route is in forest that we never did put on sunscreen. It made for a fairly cool hike. We headed back around Wallace Lake and down to the newer logging road. A short way down that is the Greg Ball Trail. That made for a nice gentle route back down. I was surprised to see several groups at Wallace Lake and coming up to the lake in the later afternoon. Nothing like the mob at the falls but more than I used to see. Back at the railroad grade we took the connector for the second time this day down to the Woody Trail. This time we turned right and followed the Woody Trail on down. As expected there were many people on this trail going up and down. It slowed us down a bit but soon we were back at the trailhead. It was just before 5:00 pm.
The GPS showed we hiked 16.9 miles with 2900' of gain. Almost 1000' came after we reached Wallace Lake. The day proved to be much more interesting than I expected. We did not set out to reach Shaw Lake and we did not do it but came very close. Now we will have to go back for the final third of a mile. It was a very pleasant spring day in a very crowded place where we avoided most of the people until the last mile and a half. A really fun hike. As expected the parking lot was nearly full. I'm sure it was full an hour earlier. Driving out we counted cars parked along the road. An even 50. Added to the parking lot there were at least 100 cars there. Amazing but understandable on a beautiful spring day.
I have posted 36 annotated photos on my website located at: http://www.hikingnorthwest.com. Go to "Trips - 2012" on the left margin.
Wallace Falls - Lake Loop, Jay Lake, Shaw Lake — Apr 25, 2010 — Donald Shank
Expand report text Hide report textRead full report with photos
Wallace Falls can be very crowded (deservedly so, as it's one of the loveliest and most accessible h...
Wallace Falls can be very crowded (deservedly so, as it's one of the loveliest and most accessible hikes here in Snohomish County), which is why I chose it on this warm, sunny Sunday. My wife worries when I hike alone, so I assured her that being alone wouldn't be an issue here.
Not wanting too much company, I arrived fairly early at 8:30. There were already a dozen other cars in the lot (when I finished my hike at 4:30, the lot was full and there were two dozen other cars parked a quarter mile from the park entrance, so an early start is advised on nice weekends). I set out to do the big loop of the park, heading up the trail to the falls while the crowds were still (relatively) sparse.
The trail was remarkably mud free, considering the torrential, anyone-seen-a-pair-of-zebras rain we had Saturday, and it was an easy but moderately steep climb up to the top. From the upper falls, a trail leads to the top of the ridge, hard to discern, but fortunately there are blue markers attached to trees that show you the way. A short uphill grunt and you come out on the DNR road (closed to all but the occasional logging truck) that leads to Wallace Lake.
There's a nice short side trip here. Instead of heading left towards the lake, go right about 100 yards and you'll find access to the banks of the Wallace River just before the falls, a pleasant place for a snack and a rest. From here the walking is easy, following the wide, level road for about 3 1/2 miles to the lake. The signage here is great, with every turn marked and maps posted with "You Are Here" markers.
The first thing you'll notice as you head along the road is that it's very quiet. As the sound of the river recedes, it is replaced by the chirping of birds and the occasional whine of an airplne engine in the distance. This is second growth forest, but ferns and wildflowers are returning, so the walk has a very park like quality to it, and after leaving the falls you've left most of the crowds behind as well.
Wallace Lake is usually ignored by visitors to the park, and today was no exception. A party of four was picnicing by the outlet stream, two people were fishing (lake season opened Saturday) and a couple was enjoying the view from the beach at the lakes west end, but that was it.
Once I set off for Jay Lake, I had the trail to myself. A short, easy mile later you come to the lake and a few campsites, available by permit only (contact the ranger for info). There were four tent pads, a picnic table and a fire pit surrounded by log chairs forming a sort of a "Wallace-henge". The fishing is probably good here too. When I stepped on a partially submergered log on the lakes shoreline, a group of about 50 trout fingerlings scattered away.
From here the "trail" to Shaw Lake is a bit challenging. You won't see a path on the ground, but some brush has been cut back and there is orange and pink flagging tape tied to branches every 50' or so.
As I was fighting my way through the brush, I heard the sound of something low to the ground and definately heavy crashing through the undergrowth. I didn't see what I'd scared off, but a few yards later I came upon a big, steaming pile of cougar poo. Anybody camping at Jay Lake would be well advised to keep the kids and dogs on a short leash.
When I arrived at a crossing of Shaw lake's outlet stream, the orange blazes showed the trail proceeding up a steep hillside full of unstable looking debris. I was within 1/2 mile of the lake, but at this point I reconsidered. I told my wife I was only going as far as Jay Lake, I was alone, the trail was dodgy and that cougar was somewhere nearby, so I let caution trump adventure. I turned around.
The trip back was a delight. Other than the two fishermen still at Wallace Lake, I didn't see another soul until I reached the Railroad Grade trail. I followed the Greg Ball trail, built by WTA youth volunteers (thanks everybody!) along the North Fork Wallace River. The forest is rather uninteresting at first, second growth with lots of dead sticks and little else, but as you descend there is more and more understory vegetation and wildlife (I was scolded by a chattering marmot for invading his privacy).
I followed the Railroad Grade trail back to the very crowded parking lot, a trail which is basically just another logging road. A shorter and more scenic route back is via the Woody trail.
The falls are pretty and well worth seeing, but the real gem here is the quiet and peaceful hike to the lakes. This is also a wonderful snowshoe hike up the DNR road to Wallace Lake, with an easily accessible trailhead.
Stickney Ridge (attempt) via Shaw Lake — Jun 19, 2007 — EckartS
Expand report text Hide report textRead full report with photos
Stickney Ridge (attempt) via Shaw Lake (mountain bike ride on approach roads) Stickney Ridge is a p...
Stickney Ridge (attempt) via Shaw Lake (mountain bike ride on approach roads)
Jay lake, Shaw lake — Mar 24, 2003 — Jamin A. Smitchger
Expand report text Hide report textRead full report
Jay lake ;Shaw Lake I wont talk about shaw lake becase there is a road to it.Jay lake is located in...
Jay lake ;Shaw Lake I wont talk about shaw lake becase there is a road to it.Jay lake is located in the north fork of the wallace river a half mile beyond wallace lake. The easiest way to get there is to go up Kellog lake road near Startup till you find a gate leading to a few hundred feet beyond the port blakely tree farm sign. Ascend by either foot or mountain bike up a maze of logging roads till you hit a fork in the road at about 1570 feet.Take the right fork upward till there is a swamp on your right.Cross the outlet and hike paralell to the swamp till the ridge on your right stops being about 50 degrees then cross the ridge and go down till you see the lake.The lake has fish in it,but I dont know how good the fishing is because they arent biting now due to cold.The lake is not very deep and is littered with logs ,but is reputed to have brookies.It has a partly rock bottom and is really brushy around the edges.The thing tthat really makes it a bit picturesque is stickney ridge's forested flanks looming 1000 feet above and a the cliffs along the valley wall.If there was good fishing in it id definitely go back.THere is no trail to this lake.