Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Patjens Lakes Trail

Trail sign in from the trailhead
With most of the high country trails still snow covered, the Patjens Lake trail is a nice option for an almost snow-free hike. Even at 4,600' there are patches of snow that one has to cross.

Beargrass in bloom along the trail

Starting at the Big Lake Campground, the trail soon forks and makes a loop hike out into the Mt. Washington Wilderness. I prefer hiking counter-clockwise, gaining elevation early in the hike, then hitting the lakes before returning to Big Lake. Current conditions include a few downed trees, snow, some flooded areas, and a few mosquitoes.

Highlights include mountain views, old-growth forests and views of Hayrick Butte, a steep-sided butte that resulted from a subglacial volcanic eruption. This type of eruption involves a lava flow originating below a glacier or ice field, melting through to the surface and pooling on the surface to form a flat-topped structure. Called a tuya, Hayrick Butte is about a half-mile wide and 700 feet high.

Hoodoo and Hayrick Buttes

Trail distance: around 6.3 miles and 400 feet of elevation gain.

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