West Fork Foss River and Lakes
Jul 21, 2012
- Type of Outing
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: West Fork Foss River and Lakes
- Region: Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
- Agency: Skykomish Ranger District
- Trails: West Fork Foss River (#1064)
- Avg Rating: 3.62
- Why You Should Go Now
- Wildflowers blooming
- Be Aware Of
- Water on trail
- Snow on trail
I headed out Friday and planned to hike the 1.5 miles into Trout, but left later than planned and ended up just camping in the parking lot since it was dark when I arrived. The next day I got started at 8am and made quick time to Trout Lake. From there the real climbing begins, but a nice waterfall and the flowers along the trail kept me going. I took the short, but steep trail to Malachite to have an early lunch and had the place all to myself. Not too surprised since it was still pretty snowed in. Only one obvious flat camp spot on bare ground here and it was pretty marshy. I explored around, but the rest of the sites were still snow covered. Might be a few spots on the west side of the lake's outlet, but even though the stream crossing is doable, it didn't look too promising over there, so I decided to skip it.
Back on the main path I hit a few small patches of snow before reaching the stream crossing to Copper Lake. The stream is pretty wide, but low enough to easily cross on some large boulders. There were definitely better campsites here, the best of these looked to be on the west side of the lake's outlet on a small peninsula.
The sun came out so I took a break and watched the waterfalls flowing into the lake until the bugs got to me. From here I headed further up valley to Little Heart Lake, just a little over a mile up the trail. More snow patches here, but nothing major. I crossed the lake's outlet on a log jam and found several good sites, picking a 1-tent site right on the lake. There was also a nice, larger snow free spot just off the trail with views of Malachite Peak and the lake. It was so beautiful and I had the place pretty much to myself. Only issue was the toilet here is out of commission (found wooden pieces from it spread over a 20 foot area) so bring something to dig a cat hole if you decide to camp here.
Once I was all set up and had some nice down time laying in the sun, I still had 6 hours of daylight so I decided to see how much further up the trail I could get. Climbing up from Little Heart, the path is clear most of the way with snow patches getting heavier about halfway to Big Heart Lake. The trail is melted out enough, though, that trail finding isn't difficult and all the snow traverses (save one that is a little tricky with a pack) are on flat areas. Views along the way were awesome and I stopped several times on the ridge before descending down the switchbacks to Big Heart. At the bottom there were a few more snow fields, again these are flat and easy to cross, but be careful where you step since they are melting out. (You might just end up with a wet foot, but a guy I saw hiking down on Saturday poked through the snow and actually punctured his leg on a snag.)
Once down the switchbacks, I was at Big Heart Lake before I knew it. It was pretty with its thin layer of patchy ice still hanging on and a snow capped, craggy backdrop. For those with adequate navigation skills you can go off trail from Big Heart to reach Chetwoot and Angeline Lakes. With the conditions, time of day, and being by myself, I decided to turn back and leave those for another time and just enjoy the rest of my time at Little Heart. I felt pretty grateful for the clear weather and fortunate to have gotten all the way up the established trail. I imagine getting all the way up here was a lot more challenging a couple of weeks ago.