Little Joe Lake – Thorp Mtn Loop – 07-04-2013

This was a great loop hike with a great group of participants. The trail up to Little Joe Lake and along Red Mountain to No Name Ridge is faint and unmaintained. Lots of downfall. The GT map says “Hard To Follow” – we didn’t find it too difficult (we did the loop counter clockwise and recommend it). We lost the trail once but quickly retraced our steps to a cairn and went the “other way” and were on the trail once again. We came across a small herd of elk accompanied by a few deer on No Name Ridge. The view from atop Thorp Mountain was fantastic.

I used map and compass several times on this hike. I demonstrated their use to all the participants. Everyone became much more engaged in route finding as a result.

Mild weather, few bugs, clear blue skies all conspired to make this the perfect hike. A very diverse set of participants from India, Iran, China, Korea, Japan, Denmark and US made this the perfect international activity for the 4th of July. I will long remember this hike.

Participants include Nicole Hansen (leader), Lauren Bai, Katja Ellertson, Bahar Houshamand, Andy Kemberling, Becky Kim, Linda M. Kuramoto, and Sriraman Thiruvallur Rajamani.

Little Joe Lake – Thorp Mtn Loop – 07-04-2013 (Fullscreen Slideshow)

References:

  • Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Region, by Dan Nelson and Alan Bauer, Thorp Mountain
  • Best Loop Hikes Washington, by Dan Nelson and Alan Bauer, Thorp Mountain
  • Green Trails Kachess Lake No. 208

This loop offers outstanding rewards but demands serious effort in payment. The trail has suffered years of neglect, leaving the route rough. Add the strenuous climbs and you have a hike that taxes even the toughest hikers. In return, though, hikers will find views that are unmatched in this part of the state. From the fire-lookout cabin atop the heather-carpeted peak you can scan the horizon in every direction, picking out peaks and valleys throughout the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and south all the way to Mount Rainier (on clear days). The ridges rolling away from Thorp Mountain sport colorful flower meadows, and the blue pool of Kachess Lake sparkles in the deep valley at its foot.

Driving Directions
From Seattle drive east on I-90 to take exit 80 (signed “Roslyn/Salmon la Sac”). Head north on Salmon la Sac Road (State Route 903) about 15 miles, passing through Roslyn and past Cle Elum Lake. Just past the upper end of the lake, turn left onto French Cabin Road (Forest Road 4308). Drive 3.25 miles up FR 4308 to FR 4312 on the right. Go right and drive 1.5 miles to another road junction, with FR 4312-121. This road is typically gated, so park here (don’t block the gate).
Trailhead GPS coordinates (47.3733,-121.1578)
NW Forest Pass required.

Hiking Stats:
9.68 miles, 2916 ft. gain, 7 hrs 15 min.

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