Type of HikeDay hike
Trail ConditionsObstacles on trail:
Overgrown in places.
This easy trail leads, as others have reported, through a vast burn that killed all trees except in a few islands of green. One of those islands is the east shore of Black Lake. It is like an oasis after walking in sunlight through a stand of black snags the length of the valley. Except for those little patches of green, there are only standing dead trees as far as you can see. The trailhead sign says 5 miles to Black Lake, but it's really only 4. The trail is mostly within the Pasayten Wilderness, although any wilderness entry sign was apparently destroyed in the fire. A fair amount of blowdown is across the trail. Mostly it is step-overs, but some require short detours. With so many standing dead tress, expect many more to tumble in the next several years. The trail is also fairly brushy. This hike offers a study in regeneration after a fire. Fireweed, manzanita, willows, aspen, and young lodgepole pines are flourishing. In the fall, all this shrubbery was colorful. Yet, in other ways the area seems like a desert. Except for a few chipmunks, we saw no sign of wildlife -- no tracks or scat. We are confused about the date of the fire. Locals we met on the trail said this was part of the big Thirtymile fire in 2001. That seems consistent with the size of the new seedlings. But another trail report says that the fire was in 2003. A trip report in the spring of 2003 does not mention the burn, which suggests it happened later that year. Another local told us that the area around and beyond Black Lake burned at a different time from the Thirtymile fire. We hope someone can clarify this. Dave Knibb