The south end of the William O. Douglas Wilderness is rolling country swathed in mature forest that is interrupted by dozens of named, and many more unnamed, lakes. A visit to scenic Cramer Lake, with its clear water, good fishing, and comfortable campsites will leave you wanting to explore deeper into the Tumac Plateau.
From the parking area, head past the trailhead signpost and around the west end of Dog Lake. Continue past the Dark Meadow Trail on your left which cuts over to the PCT a mile north of the Leech Lake trailhead at White Pass. About a half-mile from the trailhead, pass into the William O. Douglas Wilderness proper and leave your worldly worries behind. North Fork Clear Creek will be meandering through boggy meadows to your right where elk can often be seen near dawn or dusk.
At 1.3 miles into your hike, you’ll come to a bridgeless crossing of North Fork Clear Creek that may be difficult during spring run-off, but can usually be crossed with dry feet on logs or by rock hopping. Campsites can be found here for those getting a late start on the trail. On the far side of the creek, the various user trails climb the bank and coalesce as you continue north and begin gradually heading uphill to gain the 800 feet of elevation to the lake.
At mile 3.3, take a right down a side trail to Cramer Lake just before a large meadow. The lakeshore here makes an excellent spot to enjoy the sun or hide from it in the shade of tall fir trees. Opportunities to camp in well-established sites abound making Cramer Lake a great spot for first time backpackers or those with young children.
From Cramer, it’s a short stroll to visit some of the other large lakes in the region. Both Dumbbell and Otter Lakes are less than a mile farther down the trail while longer rambles can take you to dozens of peaceful mountain lakes as well as the summit of Tumac Mountain, the site of a former lookout.
WTA Pro Tip: Make sure to check out Clear Creek Falls, just a half-mile east of the Dog Lake Campground on Highway 12.