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by Suzanne Vernon
Copyright 1989 by Vernon Printing and Publishing
(Excerpted trail hikes reproduced here by permission)
The one-mile walk to Glacier Lake is so popular that the overuse of the area years ago prompted wilderness managers to close the lakeshore to camping. Folks still travel here by the dozens, and it is easy to understand why. The trail is great for children. Season: July through October. (Creek crossings can be hazardous in May and June.) Round trip: 2 miles. Elevation at trailhead: 5170. Elevation at lake: 5260. USGS Map: Hemlock Lake, Grey Wolf lake.
Take the Kraft Creek Road #561 west for about eleven long miles, following the signs to Glacier Lake. (Kraft Creek Road, a well-graveled Forest Service road, joins Highway 83 near mile marker 37, about five miles south of Condon.) The road is in pretty good shape most of the year, though the last half mile to the parking area can be rough. Watch for logging traffic during the week on this, and other, Forest Service roads.
Glacier Lake is located in the Mission Mountains Wilderness. Snow usually keeps this trail closed until mid-June. Early in the summer numerous waterfalls created by snowmelt high in the Missions cascade to Glacier Creek and Glacier Lake. By mid-July, the waterfalls have dried up, but the landscape still borders on spectacular. The trail to Glacier Lake crosses the creek three times, via one-log bridges. The logs can be slippery during high water, but children normally enjoy the challenge. At least one spring bubbles into view along the trail, and the entire drainage consists of old growth forest alive with birds and wildflowers. The steady whistles of the varied thrush will greet you near the lakeshore. This trail also provides access to another half dozen lakes within a day's hike of Glacier Lake, including Turquoise, Heart and Island. Topographical maps are suggested if you hike to these other lakes, since wilderness "trails" are barely more than game trails in some areas. Turquoise Lake, above Glacier Lake, offers truly spectacular scenery, but the route to the lake is steep and can be treacherous when wet. (Round trip to Turquoise from trailhead: over 12 miles.) The rocky crags that surround Turquoise Lake are popular among rock climbers. Crescent, Hearl and Island Lakes north of Glacier Lake invite explorers. (Round trip from trailhead to Island: about 12 miles.) Don't be fooled by maps that show good trails all the way to these other lakes. The trails are not always maintained, but are good areas for experienced hikers.
The drive along Kraft Creek Road from Highway 83 is a long one. Carry plenty of drinking water. There are no toilets or developed water at the trailhead. No motorized vehicles or bicycles are allowed in the wilderness. Once you begin walking, remember to please practice low-impact hiking techniques. Wilderness managers have been fighting a constant battle here to maintain the natural character of the area. In recent years the lakeshore has been reseeded with native grasses.