We hiked from Holden, west over the crest and out the Suiattle River Trail. I’d been dreaming about doing this trip for ages. My parents did the same trip back (only in the opposite direction) in the 70s and I’d always wanted to do it, too.
Day 1- Holden to Holden Lake
Day 2 - Holden Lake to Hart Lake
Day 3 - Hart Lake to Lyman Lake and upper Lyman Lakes.
Day 4 - Lyman Lake to Image Lake
Day 5 - Image Lake to Suiattle trailhead
Trail is in good condition and easy to follow most of the way. A few exceptions:
- The bridge is out on the trail the leads to the east side of Lyman and Upper Lyman Lakes. The river is not fordable and the trail is closed. A Signed detour is in place until the bridge is replaced, which should be soon according to the Forest Service/Americorp crew we talked to. (Construction had just begun. A footing for the bridge is in place on one side.) The detour goes around the east side of Lyman Lake and is flagged to the upper lake. The route up to the upper lake follows the boulder field to the right of the last flag, on a sign that says to follow the snow/rock route. At the lake the detour fords the outlet. It’s fast and will definitely require getting a bit wet if you want to cross.
- There’s a small bit of steep snow on the hiker detour route (the route on the south) from Cloudy Pass to the PCT. It should melt soon. That route is on a steep slope and the only part of the whole route that felt at all exposed. (I don’t love trails that traverse steep slopes, but it was fine with poles.)
- The Suiattle River Road is rough. I was glad for decently high clearance.
- There are a few downed logs on Miners Ridge between the PCT and Image Lake. Only one required a detour off trail. The rest were just annoying.
Logistics are a bit challenging for this hike. We left a car at the Suiattle trailhead. Then we drove over Highway 20 to visit family. After a visit, we caught the Lady of the Lake II ferry from Chelan. We also left a car there to pick up later. (There’s a pay lot there that’s managed by the ferry company.)
It’s a good idea to make ferry reservations in advance.
Once we arrived at the Holden stop, we took a bus the 10 miles into Holden. The bus is $10/person and it’s also a good idea to make reservations. You can email them and they’ll give you a link to pay in advance.
The ride up to Holden is pretty. Near town it was interesting to see the mine remediation.
Day 1- to Holden Lake
With the ferry ride and all, we got started hiking about 2 p.m. The trail was great, with lovely views. A ton of birds singing. WTA crews had done some good trail work. The lake is gorgeous. Mosquitos were pretty bad.
Day 2- We had to backtrack to the main trail before continuing to Hart Lake. It’s an easy hike without a ton of gain. We were glad for the short day when it started raining not long before we reached camp. We napped the afternoon away. When it stopped raining we enjoyed dinner by the lake. We saw mama deer and her two fawns, bats, fish and a lot of birds. Bugs were annoying but not nearly as bad as Holden Lake.
Day 3 - This was my favorite day of the trip. We hike to Lyman Lake. The bridge on the east side of the lake is washed out. We camped on the west side of the lake. Bugs were AWFUL. The tiny little mosquitoes that I think are the worst. We dropped our tent and most gear and followed the flagged detour route up to the upper lakes. We weren't comfortable with the ford at the outlet of the uppper lake. Instead, we did a bit of rock hopping to get up higher in the basin. (If you're going to do the same, it's easy to stay on rock or snow here, which is important. It's a delicate area.) It was gorgeous up there and we enjoyed watching a few climbers coming down from Spider Gap. There were no bugs in the upper basin.
Day 4 - We climbed up to Cloudy Pass, which was absolutely gorgeous. We loved having a view down the whole valley. It was also fun to watch the clouds come through the pass. Obvious how it got its name. We took the hiker detour to the PCT, because it's shorter. Also, we'd heard from the crew we talked to earlier that it had little snow, which was easy to cross. It wasn't a trail for folks who are extremely sketchy about heights, it was narrow in parts and on a steep slope. There is another option if you'd rather skip it. It's just 1.3 miles longer. Miners ridge had a few trees down. The marmots were out in force on the grassy slopes. We arrived at Image Lake around 4 p.m. and there were already a number of tents set up. I wasn't surprised. It was Fourth of July after all. At the end I think there were three tents in the higher camps and 6 in the lower camp. (No camping in the lake basin itself.) All the campers were friendly and it was remarkably quiet for how many folks were there. There were a few bugs but they were not bad at all.
Day 5 - The longest day of our trip by far, but all downhill or flat. We saw a bear on the trail between Image Lake and the lookout. It was not aggressive but also not AT ALL shy. We slowly backed away, yelled and clanged our poles at it when we saw it and it just sat down in the trail. So, we waited until it decided to finally move on. Definitely secure your food. (We had a bear canister.) The trip down to the trailhead was perfect. Trail looks great — nice job on the repairs on the slide areas!