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100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest
by Rich Landers & Spokane Mountaineers (The Mountaineers Books)
Popular among weekend campers, this hike quickly leads from Interstate 90 to an area of quiet alpine lakes in the western reaches of the Bitterroot Mountains. The lakes are situated at the brink of timberline below Stevens Peak and just a ridge west of St. Regis Lakes. Stevens Peak was named in the 1800s by Captain John Mullan for Isaac Stevens, governor of Washington Territory and later a general in the Civil War. Stevens reportedly climbed the peak in 1853 to get a lay of the land. Good choice, since it’s the highest peak in the area.
If you like quick altitude gain in a short distance, this hike is for you. It's 2 1/2 miles of 8% grade!! The lake is absolutely beautiful and the solitude was wonderful. I went on a Saturday and was amazed that, except for one couple, I had the place to myself. On my way out Sunday, I passed no less than a dozen hikers going in for a day trip. I'll definitely be going back, since I didn't get to the upper lake yet.
This trail is rather steep and these is very little fire wood at the lakes, but the views are nice and the snow was beautiful.
The trail is easy to access by vehicle, and the trailhead is very easy to find. Along the way, there are times when it is a little difficult to follow since there are quite a few side trails and a jeep road that cris-crosses the trail at several places. While I was there, I found quite a bit of snow left on the trail once you reach the basin at the falls and creek crossing. I wasn't prepared for a hike through hip-deep soft melting snow, so I turned back at this point. I'll give it a try again in a month or so and see if I can't get all the way to the lakes.
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