The over 40 slackers group was originally scheduled to go to Heather-Maple pass on this day, but fortunately our organizer re-routed us to Lake Stuart due to bad weather predicted in the North Cascades. Lake Stuart started from the same trailhead as Colchuk Lake, but continues straight instead of making the left turn up to Colchuk. I was glad that this was a more moderate trail this week, but still beautiful.
Here’s the Stats:
9.0 miles round trip, 1665 ft elevation gain, High Point 5065 ft
Location: North Cascades, Leavenworth Area
Pass required: Northwest Forest Pass (*they were ticketing people who used the discover pass, make sure you are using the right one)
Note – No dogs are allowed on this trail. Leave your furry friends at home.
For Driving directions/more info see: www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lake-stuart
The dirt road leading to the trailhead off Icicle Creek Road was a bit bumpy, SUV recommended, but sedans can make it with care.
The first part of the trail follows Mountaineer Creek for 2.2 miles junction. If you go left the trail will take you to Colchuck Lake, the trail to the right goes to Lake Stuart. Be sure to look for the signs (see picture above) for the proper direction. The first section of the trail has a few ups and downs, including one steeper section which is the main part of the elevation gain to the Stuart Lake. There is one main bridge crossing heading to Lake Stuart over Mountaineer Creek on the way to the junction. You also catch some nice mountain views along they way.
After the junction, the trail has a few sections of moderate climbing, but it is mostly flat. There is a large meadow that you cross that has a great view of Mount Stuart. The flowers here were mostly done this late in the summer. Per the WTA website, in the fall the asters on this part of the trail are very nice in the fall. There were also a ton of baby trees along the trail. A sign we had a good winter? Part of our group also had an elk sighting in this meadow. Unfortunately it ran away right when I arrived, so no photo.
The Lake itself was a very nice tarn. Had it been a warm day I might have been tempted to jump it, but on this particular day it was cool and rainy. If you like overnight backpacking, there were several camp sites around the lake. On our way back down we encountered a ton of backpackers. Some were heading into the Enchanments/Colchuk Lake, but there were several heading to Lake Stuart for the night. Not a bad hike for a drizzly Northwest day.