Cleveland Lake 3986′

“Cleveland” doesn’t immediately conjure images of serene alpine surroundings in my mind, rather football and meat packing for some reason. Regardless, it’s not a bad place to get away from it all…

…all that football and meat packing and such.


Back in the days of Ye Olde Northwest there once was a tiny town called Berlin. Nearby this little village, stood a mountain named for Grover Cleveland upon his election to the presidency. “Cleveland Mountain”

One day the Berlin postmaster let the cat out of the bag though, saying that the mountain would have been named for whomever won.

Ya know, “Loser Mountain” actually has kind of a nice ring to it too though!

I’m not sure how the lake took on the name, but I’m guessing it was a matter of proximity.

Interestingly, the outfall stream of Cleveland Lake is called “Happy Thought Creek”. Was perhaps this tiny Cascade lake once known as Happy Thought Lake before being glossed over in a patriotic fervor?

I dunno, but I like “Happy Thought Lake” better.

Things change, names change. I mean hell, even Berlin is now called Miller River. Yep, the town was so inflamed with anti-German sentiment when WWI broke out, that they changed the name!

Is Miller River still full of seething anti-German rage? Probably not, but then why haven’t they changed the name back to Berlin? Willst du meine briefmarkensammlung sehen? What in the hell am I even talking about anymore?! Let’s get to the hiking…


Challenge: logging road, routefinding, off trail

Distance: 5mi road/trail, 1mi off trail

Elevation gain: 3300′

From the mountain hamlet of Miller River, head west on Money Creek Road. Just after the cabins and Mountain McMansions there is a bridge crossing Money Creek. A logging road veers left just before the bridge. This is the “trailhead”.

Some vehicles may be able to drive some distance down this road before it becomes impassable, but use at your own peril.

From whatever point you end up leaving your car, you’ll be in for a lot of logging road hiking. It’s about 5 miles up to the road’s end from Money Creek Bridge. However far you are able to drive up chips away at that total. (…and your paint job! )

This road grade is in pretty good shape for an old log road, and was clear of serious obstacles most of the way up. (July 2017)

Towards the top of the road you may be able to find a faint trail leading up into the woods. It doesn’t last long, so you’ll be needing some off trail skills to get to the lake.

It’s about a mile of underbrush, downed trees and steep duff to get to the tranquil waters. Think Happy Thoughts!


There didn’t seem to be any established tent sites at this offbeat little pond, which is good. If you stay, stay lightly.

The occasional bellow of the freight trains chugging through the Skykomish valley below sometimes sound across these still waters, perhaps lending a sort of vague old timey nostalgia to this idyllic mountain oasis. IMHO!


At first glance I guessed that Happy Thought Lake was barren, however further investigation revealed that there were a few cutthroats around. (July 2017)

The lake isn’t difficult to circumnavigate, offering a lot of casting space and perspectives on the tiny lake basin.


Cleveland Lake, er, Happy Thought Lake resides within Forest Service lands, as does the “trailhead”, so you’ll be wanting a NW Forest Pass for parking.



Washington Historical Quarterly, July 1920

Jade Lake 4620′

This is the first lake you’ll come to on your travels up the Necklace Valley. It may be diminutive, but it’ll be a sight for sore eyes after the hike in.


Challenge: maintained trail, yds-2

Distance: (from trailhead) 7.5mi + –

Elevation gain: 3000-ish’

Follow the Necklace Valley trail #1062 along the east fork of the Foss River.

The trail gives up elevation slowly until it takes off like a rocket about five miles in.

After that thigh burning climb, the trail will dump you off at the north end of the lake.

Fishing in the clouds


There are a couple established campsites at either end of the lake and a few others can be found scattered about.

You can expect these sites to fill up fast on a busy weekend…


While Jade may not be the biggest lake, it does hold fish.

Small cutthroats were abundant during my last visit.

The main trail skirts the east side of Jade Lake providing fishing access along its length.


A self issued backcountry permit is required for travel in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

You’ll need A NW trail pass to park at the Necklace Valley trailhead.

For more information visit:


USGS Big Snow Mountain

East Lake 3880′

The wild western front

A short bumpy trip from Coplay Lake is tiny East Lake… or a tribute to the Battle of the Somme!


I haven’t done much ramblin’ around here, but looking at a map there are a couple points of interest. 

Just make sure you’re not ramblin’ down range! 

The German positions are thought to be south east of the lake


There is room enough to park a couple vehicles, but since the area doubles as a turn around, you might not wanna to pitch a tent in the right of way. 

Clank some bullet casings together ’round the campfire for a rootin’ tootin’ good time! 

While you’re there, do your part and pack out a bag full of UXO and empty Keystone tall boys! 


I honestly don’t know what (if anything) is swimming around in here, but you might wanna limit your consumption, unless you like lead. 

France, 1917


Follow the directions to Coldplay, er Coplay Lake.

From there just continue south on the bumpy Forest Service road. Don’t take any dubious side roads and you oughta find East Lake in little time.

But beware of zee Germans!


Coplay Lake 3889′

The only thing missing is you

Cosplay Lake is a great place for consenting adults in playful costumes to meet and… Ahem! Coplay Lake is, uh…

This is a high lake you can drive to!


At the time of this writing this is a drive rather than a hike so, fasten your seatbelt and skip to the MOTORIN’ section near the bottom for directions!

From Coplay Lake you could continue on the road to East Lake or ramble to nearby destinations like the Clipper Mine


Coldplay has an actual Forest Service pit toilet and at least one picnic table…er, Coplay!

There is ample room for parking, and a few more secluded camping spots a little ways off the road. 

More camping opportunities


Since anyone with a beat up 1980s Subaru or better can reach Coplay, it gets fishing pressure. 

I’ve heard that both Brookies and Cutts are swimming around this pond.

However, I suppose since it’s accessible by road, there could be anything lurking in these depths.


Bullet casings and beer cans outnumber the fish by a considerable margin and Confederate flag flying monster trucks have blown mud trails across creeks and through stands of trees. 

These are motorized lands.

To me, visiting here is a reminder of what could be of our wild lands if we waver in protecting them. 

…but just because everybody else is going all Mad Max up here doesn’t mean you gotta follow suit. Bring a trash bag and fight the good fight!

Ghost forest probably not garbage related.


No need to hike unless the road has washed out, or is a few feet under the snow, but even under the best of conditions this is a rough road for a dainty vehicle. 

The last chance for gas is in Wilkeson. I ain’t trying to tell you how to do your job, but I like to keep a bit of comfort gas in the tank when I’m out there. 

After passing Carbonado you’ll cross the narrow Fairfax Bridge. Not far past that the road will split: Bear Left. 

A few roads will break off of this road, but continue onward down the main drag. You’ll eventually pass a small Ranger Station before a long but low bridge will appear over the Carbon River to your left. Cross it. 

Now you are on Cayada Creek Road, continue up ’bout 3 miles or so, avoiding any side roads and you oughta come to a signed intersection. 

<– Summit Lake  Coplay Lake –>

From here you could hit it with a well thrown rock. 


Al Lake 4750′

I don’t know who Al was, but he’s got a lake named after him high up in the Necklace Valley.


Challenge: “fishermen’s trail” yds-2

Distance: (from Necklace Cabin) <1mi

An established fisherman’s trail can be found near the Necklace Cabin heading off in the general direction of Al Lake.

Al from the air!


A peninsula at the north end of this little lake offers an established camping site that can hold a few tents. 
This is also one of the best overall vistas to think of influential Als in your life.

Like Captain Lou Albano or Al Bundy.


I can’t definitively say that this lake is without fish, but if there were some, they were awfully quiet. 

Instead of fishing you could try scrambling pt.5243 which juts out above Al’s north eastern shore. Some hippie with dreadlocks told me there are a handful of rusting relics up top. No joke!


A self issued backcountry permit is required for travel in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

You’ll need a NW Forest Pass to park at the Necklace Valley trailhead.

For more info visit:


USGS Big Snow Mountain

Mirror Lake 4195′

“Ok, you were right, it was worth the walk”

An alpine blue beauty along a short, fairly easy trail and only a stone’s throw from Snoqualmie Pass!? 

You know that is going to draw a crowd on a sunny weekend!


  • Grade: maintained trail 
  • Distance: 1 mile-ish
  • Elevation gain: 650′ + –

The Mirror Lake trail #1302 is short but sweet, packing two lakes and a fair share of views in under two miles.

The hiking trail begins where the forest road turns Jeep trail. A sign bearing the trails name marks the spot.

Follow the Jeep trail up, watching for a boot path (usually marked) leading off to your left (west).

The trail traverses forest and shrub, gradually ascending to Cottonwood Lake. Rough paths break off the main trail down to it’s waters. 

When you’ve had your fill of whatever one does at Cottonwood Lake, continue west, gaining slighty more strenuous elevation towards Mirror Lake.

At roughly the site of a small meadow the trail intersects with the PCT, a few steps further and you’re looking at the lake.

Guess it lives up to it’s name


There are quite a few camping sites around Mirror Lake but they can and do fill up.

No backcountry bathroom facilities seem to exist at the lake and it gets a lot of visitors. Do the math.

Consider WAG bagging!

Further travels…

If you still got some time and energy to burn, look around the south western end of the lake for a rugged path up Tinkham Peak, there are some nice views from up top for those that earn em’.

Also at the south end of the lake; poke around along the PCT to find the delightful Mirror Lake Falls as it descends toward Yakima Pass. Tea stained and marshy Twilight Lake lies beyond.

North on the PCT will take you into a whole other microcosm of hikes in Cold Creek basin.


While I can’t personally vouch for catching fish here, I understand that there are cutthroats swimming around.

You didn’t hear this from me, but an old timer told me they used to plant Golden Trout here back in the day.

Shore access is ample but tree lined. Perhaps if ye could float…

I’m not sure about the name but I’m going with it.


From whichever direction you are coming from on the I-90 make your way to the exit#62 Stampede Pass/Kachess Lake.

Head south on Forest Road 54, keeping an eye out for a “Lost Lake” sign. Around a mile or so from the exit you’ll wanna take a right onto Forest Road 5480. 

Continue down this road for another 4 miles before passing Lost Lake.

Another couple miles beyond the lake and you’re there. If it’s a busy weekend you’ll know you’re close when you see cars parked along the road.


You’ll need a NW Forest Pass for parking.

The available parking at the trailhead is primitive to say the least. During peak usage you’ll have to park along the road.


USGS Lost Lake

Happy Trails!

Cottonwood Lake 3900′

This is the first stop many people make while hiking to Mirror Lake, but it’s a nice little haunt it’s own right.


  • Grade: maintained trail 
  • Distance: <1mi
  • Elevation gain: 300′ + –

The walk to Cottonwood Lake isn’t arduous, long, or very difficult, which makes this a nice destination for people just wanting an easy ramble.


Just below the trail along the south side of the lake there are a few established sites. 

Being that this is a simple lake to attain, it is heavily traveled. If there is a backcountry toilet on site, I didn’t see it, and judging by the “leavings” neither did a lot of other people… Yuck!


I haven’t fished this lake personally, but I did observe a bit of action on the water.

While the ease of access makes Cottonwood Lake an over loved location, it also makes it a realistic destination to pack in a raft. Hell, a couple of strapping young hikers could even pack in a canoe…

But watch out for brown trout lurking in the bushes.


These are the lands of the US Forest Service and a valid Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking.


USGS Lost Lake

Lucky Strike Lake 3320′


Actually, this lake doesn’t have a name that I know of…

There were mineral claims in and around the lake however; The Huckleberry, Lake View, Kate Sharpe, Gem and the… Lert.

Huh… so you guys went with Lert? Was that a group decision?

Nothing is really known about the history of these claims except for their names.

There are three others however, known as the Lucky Strike Claims, and they were worked from 1947 to 1951.

It is in memory of the four years of labor at these claims that I bestow upon the lake:

Lucky Strike Lake™

Plus it sounds cool, like the cigarettes!


No trail

Mileage: 2mi+- rt

Elevation gain: 1000’+-



First off, get yourself a map of the area; USGS Mt.Phelps 1:24.

In section 9 there is an unnamed lake nestled in a cirque. Two creeks flow down from it. This is our objective.

Take the north fork road as if you were heading to Bare Mountain.

After crossing the last bridge, instead of turning right towards Bare Mountain, continue straight.

After passing the old Blackhawk Mine road start watching the mountain to the south for the cirque.

To the best of your ability ascertain your position relative to the western of the two creeks flowing from the “lake”.

This will put you in position to find the downed cedar to cross over.

Otherwise, pick your poison!



I found this to be a very pleasant jaunt considering that there isn’t a trail and it requires crossing the North Fork Snoqualmie.

It’s not too long and pretty straight forward so I’d say if you are looking for an easier off trail experience this one ain’t bad.

You’ll know if you are at the right place if there is a medium sized cedar down across the river.

This is where I crossed, it’s a little hard to get on and off, but it beats the alternatives.

The cedar is roughly in line with the western most of the two creeks coming from the lake.

My route traversed the hillside towards the eastern creek and mostly followed that up.

The forest here is often open and free of oppressive under brush. Most of the way I followed what appeared to be a well used game trail.


There are some absolutely massive trees growing on this mountain.

If you want a taste of ye olde Northewest, this is a good one.

At 3000′ or so I broke out of the trees and into talus and evil scrub. To my west, the wonderfully slabby watercourse of:

Lucky Strike Falls™

Above is the lake at 3320′-ish

I hiked up just to the east of the falls.

With snow this climb was a cinch. In summer you’d probably end up taking the talus to avoid the evil brush growing around the creek and falls.

Either way you’ll end up at…



Er… not?!

The lake’s small outlet stood out in the sun as I ambled up.

Floating in a pond of water no bigger than a standard parking space were a pair of mallards.

…and that was that, they took up the whole lake.

Even with the snow gone I don’t think there’d be much more, maybe a large bog. A marsh perhaps. 

The cirque is trenched with a small and snaky mountain stream. It flows through a diminutive stand of trees and mountain marshes.

It’s kind of like a secret Lilliputian landscape… 

But I gotta believe this was a lake, I mean one of the claims was called the Lake View.

Then again, they may have been the same people that named the Lert.

If it was a lake, you gotta wonder what happened to it…



It’s said that somewhere in the area is a 30ft shaft.

Aside from that some promising quartz veins are said to carry pyrite, arsenopyrite and chalcopyrite.



I think you’re better off leaving the pole in the car for this one.

I’ve heard that at some point in the past, presumably when or if this was a lake, it may have had a few fish.

There might be fish in some of the deeper holes in the creek, but ya, I’ll let you think that over for a minute.

I was really hoping there’d be a lake here…

The Lilliput landscape is pretty cool though.


Well that about sums that up.

Not a lake, potential history, lots of solitude…

Happy trails!



Woodhouse, Phil; Jacobson, Daryl; Petersen, Bill; Cady,Greg; Pisoni, Victor, Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.1: The West Central Cascade Mountains. Oso Publishing Company, 1997

Copper Lake 3961′

Heaven ain't got nothin' on this place!
Heaven ain’t got nothin’ on this place!

Copper Lake is typically the second lake one will reach on the West Fork Foss Lakes Trail #1064, the first being Trout Lake.

Comparing the two though is like night and day.


As previously mentioned, you can get there by way of the Foss Lakes trail. You could feasibly get there all kinds of ways, but the trail is by far the easiest.


Copper Lake is one of the more popular destinations along the Foss trail, and being more or less the middle point, provides a decent base to explore the surrounding peaks, lakes and “whathaveyas”.

A lake in the sky

There is a collapsed adit at the south end of the lake, in fact the trail utilizes the tailings pile as it heads to Little Heart Lake.

According to DWHM#1 there may exist a claim “1 mile south of Malachite Lake on a ridge west of Copper Lake”.  It is described as a “Caved pit and caved adit”.

I’ve heard speculation that these may be the same claim.


I’ve caught both Cutthroats and Brook Trout out of Copper Lake. The most convenient fishing access is at the north end of the lake, but the intrepid may be able to find access to less accessible shoreline.

If you are so inclined, you could hike up an inflatable raft and ply the azure waters until your heart is content.

“Point 5890”


Copper Lake is pretty big, and the trail ambles along it’s eastern shore for it’s entirety. This affords many campsites to choose from.

The north end of the lake hold the lion’s share of campsites, but others exist along the trail, and between Copper and Little Heart Lakes.

There is a backcountry toilet available for use here, so please, if nature calls, use it rather than a cathole.

Campfires are prohibited at Copper Lake and any point over 4000’ft in the Alpine Lakes wilderness (west).

Other regulations may apply.

Malachite Peak

Little Heart Lake 4204′

Little Heart Lake
Little Heart Lake

To get to Little Heart Lake you’ve most likely passed Copper Lake, and while extremely diminutive by those standards, Little Heart is nonetheless an alpine gem and a destination unto itself.


Little Heart Lake can be reached by taking the West Fork Foss River Lakes Trail #1064


There is a gap high above the south end of the lake which could be used to reach the remote north west arm of Big Heart Lake.

from the NE
from the NE

Camp Robber Peak is also attainable via this route.

Note: You may have to get wet…


I can personally vouch that there are Cutthroat Trout in this lake.

Wide open and reasonably accessible boulder shores in the north-east corner of the lake provide ample room for fly-casting.


There are a few established campsites at Little Heart Lake and along the trail that connects it to Copper Lake.

There is little opportunity to camp between Little Heart and Big Heart.

Campfires are prohibited at Little Heart Lake and at any point over 4000′ along the trail.

Other regulations may apply.

All kinds of talus!
All kinds of talus!