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Trip Report    

Day Hike - Lake of the Angels

Very steep, scrambly trail that leads to a spectacular lake basin in the southeast corner of the Olympics.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Trail is extremely steep and has no switchbacks. It starts going up right at the start and keeps going up, kind of in a corkscrew fashion.  Trailhead parking is located just past a small bridge over a creek on FS 25 at the 12-mile mark.  The trail sign is older and dark brown but is on the right; parking is opposite on your left.  You may find references in books to an Upper Trailhead at the 2 mile mark. do not be fooled, the road that used to be driveable to that point is now covered in small trees.   At the 2-mile point where the trail crosses the old road there is a ONP TH kiosk where you can get a wilderness permit for camping at the lake, which is in the park. There are two headwalls to get up and over, the first one is the biggest and contains a section that is scrambl-y, requires the use of hands and feet and extra caution coming down.  Leader may want to bring a rope to run a handline on this section.  There is some exposure on the downhill side: it is not cliffs but extremely steep and a tumble could result in a serious fall.  After the first headwall is surmounted the trail crosses a flat boggy area that is quite muddy.  This is where the Pond of the False Prophets is found.  Don't be disappointed, the lake basin is beyond and much more scenic. The second and smaller headwall just below the lake basin is steep but does not involve scrambling up rocks.  There are a couple of areas where water is running down over the rocks and trail one must climb up.  I would not do this trail if it was raining or extremely wet as the steep grade would be even more slippery.  Descent requires just as much caution as the steepness of the trail means a slip or fall could be serious.

Six brave and hearty Mounties accepted the challenge of Lake of the Angels and were not disappointed.  Trail is extremely steep from the get go and only relents for two brief stretches.  Save this trip for the end of the season when you are in excellent shape.  The trail has no switchbacks, it merely corkscrews straight up a hillside, climbs a headwall, which involves scrambling up rocks and roots and some exposure, enters a small basin, climbs some more to a muddy meadowy area, then enters the ONP.  After entering the park the trail ascends up a smaller headwall which is just as steep but does not require scrambling up a rock face.   The small lake in the basin at the top is worth the effort though, as it sits in an amphitheatre of peaks, trees and heathery meadows.  Weather was perfect for hiking; not too hot, not too cold.  We had time for an hour at the lake and enjoyed the chocolate provided by Richard and admired David's sweat rag collection drying on a rock.  A few clouds passed over while at the lake and we saw some small fish jumping in the lake.   Descent occurred without incident and we made it back to the cars at 16:20 for a RT time of just over 7 hours.