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Summit Lake, Coundly Lake #1177

Jun 08, 2001

by Alpinejo last modified Sep 10, 2008 03:03 PM
Type of Outing
Day hike
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Summit Lake
Region: Mt. Rainier
Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District
Trails: Summit Lake (#1177)
Avg Rating: 4.12
Be Aware Of
Water on trail
Snow on trail

Directions: Head out Hwy 410, turn on to Hwy 165 and head towards the Carbon Glacier entrance of Mt Rainier Nat'l Park, as you go through Wilkeson take the left on your way out of town, follow the paved road until it splits, take a right and head up the gravel road, follow the road past the summer camp and take a left before you get to a gate, follow this gravel road down through a valley go up the other side, wind around this big hill staying straight, the road will split and take the right spur,Cedar Lake will be in the basin on the left side of the road, continue to roads end and park. Trail leads off into the brush.

Trail Notes: June 8, 2001, 7:30pm -4:30pm, 7+ miles roundtrip, 4000+ vertical gain. Trail is in good shape.

Coundly and Summit Lakes are well worth a afternoon or weekend visit. We opted for a day hike.

We followed the road above Cedar Lake to it's end, and there we found a trail leading off into the brush (there is not a trailhead or any signs marking the trail). So we followed the trail and 'by-golly' it went all the way to Summit Lake (yehaw). The trail is in great shape, meandering through the forest. The trail is relatively easy hiking until you near a ridge above Coundly Lake. It looked like there was a trail that split off and went down to Coundly Lake, but we opted to push on to Summit lake (in looking back we should have taken this trail, just so we would know where it came out at). 

The trail follows the Rooster Comb which winds along the ridge. Sometimes the trail was 6 inches wide on a rocky ledge with a substantial drop off. There was still snow on the ridge and there are a few chutes we had to kick in foot holes to make it up. There is one grueling (seeming endless section) that is practically straight up and covered with exposed roots (this is were we began to sweat). But other than that the trail was quite a delight. After climbing the ridge behind Summit Lake the trail disappeared under 3 feet of snow. We just kept heading south looking for the rocky cliffs that surround Summit Lake. We peered through the trees and to our disappointment-Summit lake was nearly completely frozen. We stopped for a break and seen some 8 inch trout along the shoreline.

After a nice break we retraced our steps back to the Rooster Comb, and kept looking for a nice trail cutting down to Coundly Lake. We ended up bushwhacking down to Coundly Lake because we did not want to walk all the back to were the trail split off on our way in. After a rapid decent over and under logs down a few ravines we made it to the lake. There is a great fisherpersons trail along 3/4 of the lake shore. I caught one little trout right off the bat(and released him), but after that nothing would bite. I through numerous different lures (the one that worked was a Mepps #3 red and white spinner). I fished around the entire lake, checking out the scenery. I found 3+ camps near the outlet. These camps were disgusting-garbage everywhere (pop cans, beer cans, sardine cans--there was probably enough garbage to fill my backpack; on our return trip I will see about cleaning all this stuff up). We found a trail that headed out along the outlet, thinking it might take us back up to Cedar Lake-- Wrong! We ended up a couple logging roads lower than where we had parked. So we got out the map and found our approximate location, and headed up through a clearcut-it was a brutal bushwhack. We ended up coming out about 40 feet from my truck-cool. 

Do it again' Any time I have a chance.

If you want to see some other hikes and pictures around the Pacific Northwest take a look at my website at:

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Rooster Comb

Posted by dospassos at Aug 31, 2009 09:01 PM
We spent a day wandering around looking for a way into Coundly Lake. We wound up finding the road end you mentioned. I can't count the number of times we hiked in from there and across the Rooster Comb to Summit Lake. When the Carbon River bridge was washed out, there was never anyone else up there. It was a fun way to go, though treacherous in places. My son enjoyed "roping up" to get down one spot that was very steep. It is a deceptive trail because the trees give a sense of security, but if you look around you'll see you are on a sharp ridge that is a precipice on one side and a extremely treacherous incline on the other! We went in once and dropped down into Coundly and fished. It is a quiet and peaceful place. There are two more ways in. One from South Prairie Creek, which has its source in Coundly. Also, there is a dead-end road (several years ago a mile or more of it was de-commissioned) that has a trailhead into Coundly. And then. thirldy, you can just drop off the trail before you get to the Rooster Comb. We also made an attempt on Lily twice but never found a suitable path down before we lost daylight. I spent many summers up there with my son hiking and fishing. It's a beautiful trip. Along the Rooster Comb is a copper wire we noticed for a half a mile or so:evidence of an old telephone line into a long gone lookout. The return path was earth ground. We have had good luck fishing Coundly, Summit, and Cedar; though most of them are pan fish brookies. There are some rainbows (they reproduce in Lily Creek) in Lily Lake. We never made it, but have seen evidence of 2-3 pound rainbows. The view of Mt. Rainier from Summit Lake is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

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