Bumping Lake and its views are the centerpiece of this trail, and perhaps the best descriptions of the area come from William O. Douglas himself. In Of Men and Mountains, Douglas devotes a chapter to Jack Nelson and his wife Kitty, the first gatetenders of the Bumping Lake Dam (completed in 1913). The two made an excellent team and kept an eye on the lake for the next thirty years. Douglas would stop at their cabin as a young man and drink a cup of hot coffee before his own hikes along the trail and into the wilderness.
Today the Bumping Lake trail still offers unique old-growth conifer stands, a range of wildlife from elk to wetland dragonflies, and a deep connection to Washington history.
The trail starts in woods near cabins and heads quickly down to the lake shore. After filling out a wilderness permit, stop to admire the views of Nelson Ridge across the lake’s eastern end.
The trail then heads west, staying mostly above but near shore, traversing talus fields peppered with wildflowers. The hillside is steep in this first section, so access to the water is mostly visual. Look for large nests on the standing snags in the lake; the snags are remants of the former forest that stood here before the dam’s construction.
At about 1.5 miles, ford Boulder Creek; a stout footlog is presently available. The trail continues through forest, and at 3 miles, crosses Cedar Creek by another ford. Immediately across the creek, pass a good forest campsite on the right. Along this level stretch of trail look for giant Douglas firs and towering larches.
Wildflowers, including wild strawberries and cow parsnip, line parts of the trail, along with red elderberry and blueberries. You also can’t miss the spectacularly large anthills of the red ants, reaching 3 or more feet in height -- be careful of lingering too close to the piles of twigs and needles.
Soon the trail begins to climb gently, reaching the wilderness boundary and, shortly afterwards, the junction with the Swamp Lake Trail #970 at 4 miles. After this junction the trail descends to ford Cougar Creek. Use caution here early in the season (through roughly mid-July) when the water is high.
A quarter mile later the trail meets Fish Lake Way trail #971a. Here you have a range of options. Backtrack left along trail #971a for a short jaunt (.2 miles) to the Bumping River. Or, continue along trail #970 past meadows to Fish Lake (5.6 miles distant) and a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Or, turn around here and hike the 4.5 miles back out to your car.
- 9.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 300 feet
- Highest Point
- 3,700 feet
Hiking Bumping Lake
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 46.8570, -121.3199 Open in Google Maps