Twin Lakes viewed from Winchester Mt Washington Mt Baker Snoqualmie Nat Forest

Twin Lakes Washington

If you are enthusiastic about hiking in the fall and have access to a four wheel vehicle, try a morning or early afternoon hike from Twin Lakes to the summit of Winchester Mt to the old Ranger Lookout Station. The hike offers great panoramic views of Mt Baker, Mt Shuksan, the Northern Picket Range, Yellow Aster Butte, Lake Tomyhoi and Twin Lakes. At present Twin Lakes road (Forest Road #3065 in the North Fork Nooksack area) is clear of snow all the way to Twin lakes. FR #3065 is on the left side of the road just past the Snow Clearing Equipment Shed on Mt Baker Highway (542); a high clearance vehicle is required to get to the Lakes and you will drive ca. 7 miles up to Twin Lakes. This road is usually covered with deep snow well into September at the upper switch backs.

The hike begins at the trail head found in between the upper and lower lakes of Twin Lakes. The trail climbs ca 1300 feet above the lakes (elevation at the lakes is ca 5100 ft), The Winchester Mt trail veers to the left once you begin the trek up the mountain. The lower and upper pass trail heads veer to te right (follow the signs, the trail are well marked). The far side of the mountain overlooking the old Gargett Mine area is still under 5 to 10 feet of snow. It must have snowed recently as there was fresh powder and snow ski tracks left by out of bounds adventurers who skied down th back side of Winchester Mt down to Tomyhoi Lake - They must have had fun.
The front side of Winchester Mt is clear of snow up to about 5500 ft. It is very slippery in some places - take care in placing your footing just below and over the hump in gaining access to the switch backs at the backside of the mountain, a slip will ruin everyone's day (an ice axe and/or hiking pole(s) are a good idea).
The drive up FR 3065 requires 30 to 45 min; 2.5 h from Everett up I-5 and 542 (Mt Baker Highway) to the turn off. The hike down can be done in less then 1 h; going up - depends on how often you get side tracked by the numerous overlooks of the My Baker Wilderness you choose to stop at.

It worth the ride and hike but after Thanksgiving you may have to trek up from 542 and that is a long hike.

Kevin

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