Fall Hiking to Clear Lake

When I emerged out of the forest onto the shores of Clear Lake, a dense heavy cloud layer hung low like a weighted blanket over the steely lake imparting a dense stillness and silence. Just a whisper of wind brought waves to up against the shore. The area is a reservoir, not a natural lake, and this late in the season the waters were low enough to expose the stumps of the old forest and their expansive root systems sprawling and intertwining over the rocky shore. On the opposite side of the lake, Western Larches stood out, torchlight’s among the spruce and hemlocks.

The route I chose makes a loop hike on trails, the forest roads, a bit of off-trail travel, and the PCT for a total of 9.5 miles and .

I reached Clear Lake on the Blue Box Trail, which heads south off the Pacific Crest Trail just west of the crossing of Route 26, leaving from the Sno-Park at Wapinitia Pass.

The trail climbs up the hill and through some re-growing logged areas before descending down, winding among maples red and orange in fall, to come out at the lake shore after 4.3 miles and 1380 feet of elevation gain.

An entire circuit of the lake can be made following roads and trails, but I choose to head north west, enjoying the walk along the shore. Towards the end of the lake the shore became too wet and grassy, at which point I headed back into the trees and onto the road, which I continued in the same direction.

The main graveled road here, NF-2630 comes to a sharp bend, at which a smaller less developed 4×4 road continues to the northwest. Keep on this road, staying right at a junction for almost a quarter mile till it ends.  From this point I continued heading north through the forest crossing over NF-2660 and then shortly coming out onto the PCT.

Take a GPS or at least a good map to make sure you don’t get turned around and headed in the wrong direction. Head north on the PCT for two miles till the trail head.

Published by Jim Wilson

An avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast, I settled in Oregon after years of working on hiking trails in Southeast Alaska with the USFS and exploring the Pacific Northwest and rest of the country in the offseason.

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