Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rock Mountain Trail, Lake Wenatchee

Rock Mountain trail to snowline (June 20, 2011)

While Rock Lake and Rock Mountain are still snowbound the lower half of the trail makes a dandy wildflower hike. Unlike previous years the trailhead is now signed – it’s just past US 2 (heading east) MP 173, a bit past the DOT buildings. According to the kiosk at the trailhead a Northwest Forest Pass is no longer required (perhaps because there’s no facilities?).

After parking we started up a gravel road, following signs (though I did not need the signs as I have hiked there many times before). Flowers start right from the trailhead – we saw Indian paintbrush, arnica, lupine, stonecrop, serviceberry, mountain ash, shooting stars, lomatiums, yarrow, penstemon and several we could not identify without further research (mostly tiny white flowers and yellow composites).

The views are immediate – Arrowhead Mountain, the Chiwaukum Mountains and at times, US 2 and the railroad tracks. Skies were blue, temperatures were warm – conditions couldn’t have been nicer. The trail is in good condition other than a little brushy in spots, at least until we hit snow at about 4,800 feet. Once the trail enters the forest there are significant snow patches – what we call nasty as it is icy in spots, too soft in others and covered with pine needles. Once you are in the trees (in the snow) it all looks alike. We were prepared with ice axes and could have carried on but frankly, we’re tired of snow and we knew we didn’t have time in those conditions to reach the lake or the peak.

I’m not complaining – if you need a wildflower fix other than the Teanaway/Easton area this is the place to go.

We hiked about 4.8 miles round trip with 2,300 feet of gain. Map: Green Trails No. 145, Wenatchee Lake.

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