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Conrad Meadows, Surprise Lake

Jul 04, 2010

by Ginger last modified Jul 06, 2010 10:25 AM
Type of Outing
Day hike
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Conrad Meadows
Region: Eastern Washington
Avg Rating: 2.00
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Surprise Lake
Region: South Cascades -- Goat Rocks
Agency: Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Naches Ranger District
Trails: Surprise Lake (#1120)
Avg Rating: 3.33
Hiking Companions
Hiked with kids
Why You Should Go Now
Wildflowers blooming
Be Aware Of
Bridge out
Water on trail
Snow on trail
Conrad Meadows by Ginger
We selected the Conrad Meadows area in hopes of avoiding snow, and for the most part we were successful. However, we were unable to avoid the annual Fourth of July horse camp at the trail. Still, we managed to start earlier than most of the animals and had much of the glorious Conrad Meadows to ourselves give or take a riding party or two. These meadows are simply stunning fields of kelly green grasses sprinkled with Lupin, Bistort,False Hellabore,Larkspur, Greek Valerian, Mountain Violets, and all kinds of pine/fir trees. For about 4 miles or so, the trail meandered through largly flat meadows and stands of pines, crossed numerous creeks (with and without bridges),and occasionally allowed us brief views of snowy peaks.

Although we had debated about about continuing on to Surprise Lake, the trail kept tugging us along. This part of the hike may contain something like 18 switchbacks according to a passing rider who kept count. You gain 1000 feet in two miles, crossing lots of cricks, mud, and some snow. Unfortunately,mountain views are short during this part of the trail. Still, we proceeded to the lake, crossing a few snow patches. Being our first longish hike of the season, we declined to explore the lake further and took a short rest instead. People were camping up there, but we didn't see their site. Half of the lake was surrounded by snow.

The journey back through the lower meadows in the late afternoon light was fabulous. A few bugs began to emerge, although not clouds, at least not yet. We heard a lot of birdsong as well.

Overall, you could also describe our journey as two completely separate hikes: a meadow hike and a climbing hike. If we had to choose, we would choose the luscious meadows over the steep climb to a what amounts to a small, brushy lake.

All and all a unique area for us West Side folks.
Surprise Lake Still Frozen in Parts by Ginger
More Conrad Meadows (not Tieton Meadows) by Ginger
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