The Okanogan


Naturalist Trip - Okanogan Highlands

The Forest Service has a campground Lost Lake, and several trails extend from this area. A hike to the big tree botanical area takes one to some 900-year-old western larches and through beautiful forests. Beaver and Beth lakes often have nesting Common Loons and Barrow's Goldeneyes in the spring and summer. A network of roads run from Chesaw to Molson. We will travel Havillah Road, Mary Ann Creek Road, Davies Road, and a few others for birds, flowers, trees, and mammals. The Tavern in Chesaw is a good stop for lunch, and Molson has an interesting historical museum. In addition, several trails start at the Highland Sno-Park along Havillah Road, and several dirt roads provide access to the national forest. This trip will focus on birds, flowers, butterflies, and geology. You are welcome to join us for both the Sinlahekin and this trip.

  • Easy
  • Easy
  • Mileage: 4.0

20th June at noon: Meet at the Tonasket Natural Foods Coop on 4th Street and S Western Ave; grab a sandwich from the coop; they make good hot sandwiches to go, and ask about hot sandwich options. (21 4th St, Tonasket, WA 98855). There are picnic tables outside; if people want, we may run up the hill and eat in the wild.

We will stop at several places to bird and botanize between Tonasket and Lost Lake. The leaders plan on camping at Lost Lake for two nights. This is a Forest Service Campground and a first come, first find campground. We will secure campsites once we get there. Bring your senior pass, if you have one, to have a discount.

Then, probably around 3 PM, we will hike the Big Tree Botanical Area trail. The trail is a 3-mile round trip through coniferous forest and out to see some giant Western Larches.

Back at camp, depending on time, we may form carpools and head to Beth & Beaver Lakes, and Chesaw to see what we can find.

The Chesaw Tavern is a good place for dinner, or we will come back to camp for dinner. The leaders would like to eat at Chesaw Tavern at least once to show support for this rural community. No one is required to eat at the tavern,

The closest town with motels is Tonasket. Eden Guest Ranch is another option with nice cabins, about twenty or so minutes from the campsite.

21tst June:

Early morning, bird the campground area, have coffee and check out the lake. Loons may be calling or had been calling during the night. Ruby-crowned Kinglets nest in the campground, Swainson’s Thrushes nearby.

8:00 AM – gather and prepare for a day of birding, botanizing, and checking on geological formations. Pack a lunch, bring drinks, and be ready to be gone all day from camp.

We will do a loop, stopping to walk in many places. We will travel through Chesaw, up Mary Anne Creek Road, to Molson, back to Teal Lake, down Havillah Road and Hungry Hollow Road, and eventually back to the campground for dinner and listening for loons.

22nd June:

Bird the campground early in the AM. Several options might be available for this day. The leaders will decide on an official plan based on how the previous two days have been.

After breakfast, individuals can leave the group and go on their own, either hiking, birding, or heading home. Or stay with the leaders. Here are some options.

  1. We could hike in the AM, Strawberry Mountain, and still pack up by checkout time.
  2. We could head to one of the other trails in the area for a day hike, needing to be packed up from the campground if headed home that day.
  3. The leader will likely need to make the birding loop again to pick up the sound recording equipment he left.
  4. The trip will officially end by mid-day so folks can head home.

Our goal will be birds, flowers, butterflies, trees, and geology. The leader will send some information on the geology prior to the trip.

Lost Lake Campground has drop toilets, picnic tables at the campsites, and potable water sites spread throughout the grounds. Those camping need to bring some water, food, and appropriate supplies.

We will hike on some trails. We will also walk along the roads and back into the forest in several places.

The Wail and Tremolo of a Common Loon  Morning Chorus at Teal

Bird Songs -



The Okanogan

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Bring binoculars, the ten essentials, and stuff for meals and drinks. There is a small store in Chesaw, and the Chesaw Tavern has good food. If open, the Chesaw store does have a gas pump; make sure you fill up your tank in Tonasket.

Folding chairs can be excellent in the campground.

Bring firewood if you want an evening campfire.


The Ten Essentials

  • Navigation
  • Headlamp
  • Sun protection
  • First aid
  • Knife
  • Fire
  • Shelter
  • Extra food
  • Extra water
  • Extra clothes
Trip Reports