On September 2nd I set out to hike to Twin Lake and Mirror Lakes with my friends Shane and Scott. I was thinking this was going to be a nice easy hike, less gain than some of the other trails I have been doing. I was wrong. While this trail had only about 1500 feet the section following the Cold Creek Trail between Twin Lakes and the PCT was rough.
This trail is not used as much as some others so I was unable to locate it on WTA. Here are the stats:
About 8 miles, and roughly 1500 feet gain. High point 4500 feet.
Northwest Forest Pass Required.
To get there, follow I-90 East from Seattle to exit 54, Hyak/Gold creek. Turn right. Continue straight, crossing SR 906. The road turns into Hyak Dr NE. Continue on Hyak Dr NE, the pavement ends and the road becomes FR 9070. The trailhead is a little hard to spot, it is on the left side of the road as you go up and there is space for a few cars on the side of the road right after the trailhead. If you have gotten to the Mt. Catherine Trailhead on the right, you have gone too far.
You start out on the Cold Creek Trail to Twin Lakes. This part of the trail has a little bit of up and down, but is mostly flat. You will reach Twin Lakes in .8 miles from the start. From here, there will be a fork in the trail. Bear Left over some logs to where the real work begins.
After you cross cold creek is where all of the elevation happens. Since this trail is not used heavily, it is not maintained as well as some. It was pretty bushy in places. There were several blow downs to go over or under, some of the steep bits were a bit eroded. It was kind of like an obstacle course going up, but it was pretty and there were very few other people on the trail. I recommend going up this trail and not down it as parts could be pretty slippery going down making it dangerous with some big drop-offs.
From Twin Lakes it is 1.7 miles and 1400 feet of gain, pretty steep climbing. Take your time and catch a breather when you reach the well-groomed PCT. From here follow the trail Left going .7 miles to Mirror Lake. You will descend 300 feet to the lake from the PCT but the trail is well graded and much easier than the cold creek trail. Mirror Lake has a couple of other access point including the PCT so there were more people at the lake than there were on the Cold Creek Trail and Twin Lakes. I was wishing I had brought my swimsuit to jump in the lake as it was very inviting. I am not confident enough to jump in wearing just my underwear. I did dip my feet in and enjoyed the beautiful lake.
On the return trip, do a loop. You will go back up the PCT the way you came, but instead of going back down the Cold Creek trail, continue following the PCT back to the main road. There are some nice mountain views along the way. The huckleberries were also out, but look like they will be gone soon. Sadly, we were able to see the plumes of smoke from the Jolly Ridge fire on part of this trail. Hopefully they will be able to get all of these fires out soon. There were also some impressive trees along these trails, take time to appreciate these as well.
Once you get back to the road, turn right. You will follow the road for a bit before cutting back into the forest onto another trail that will meet with the Cold Creek Trail that you started on. Keep an eye out for this turn as it is another that may be easy to miss. It is across the road from the Mt. Catherine Trailhead. This portion of trail was also pretty rough. You can tell that it also does not get much use. Some of it almost looked like creek beds, and I imagine in the spring it must be very unpleasant to hike down. There was one large blow down that you had to hike around, other than that just dealing with the rocky, rooty and bushy trail. You connect back at the cold creek trail by Twin Lakes, taking a left back to the trail head.