Want to know a couple really cool, lesser known places in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest?
Well, here you go;
Texas Pond (Darrington Ranger District);
Texas pond used to be the site of the now removed Suiattle-Finney fire guard station. Here cedars were harvested and transported down to the Sauk River via a flume on the north end of the pond. There is one campsite about 50 yards north of the pond and a day use site on the pond where the flume is. The water exiting the lake takes a steep nosedive on its way out and if you are standing at the end of the flume (not recommended) you can feel the rush of air coming up from below.
I have been told by a few locals in Darrington that this place used to be excellent for fishing trout. However, years ago someone stocked the pond with bass and since then trout numbers have declined. Personally, I have only caught bass here but I suspect that the trout keep to the south end of the pond where it is more open and gets deeper. While you can access the south end of the pond via fisherman hiking trails, the closed in nature of the forest extends to the water’s edge and makes casting very difficult, as do the many logs clogging the shoreline. This pond is best fished with a small row boat. The “boat launch” and regulations prohibit larger, motorized vessels.
Ovenell (Mt. Baker Ranger District):
The Ovenell Parcel is a section of land owned by the Forest Service about 3-4 miles south of Concrete on the Concrete-Sauk Valley RD. The Forest Service bought the land with the intent of restoring the riparian area that had been used as cattle pasture for years. This year 50 or so 7th and 8th graders volunteered their time to help plant around 700 elderberry, willow, and Douglas firs on the parcel near a bow in a side channel of the Skagit River. These new trees are meant to protect the field from large flow surges that periodically crest the banks and flow over the parcel carrying away biomass for which plants and animals depend of for habitat creation.
While the reed canarygrass makes it difficult to find the path and to walk with ease, it is possible to follow a path cut by the Whatcom Co. Corrections Crew this year to an island on the north side of the parcel. It is an island only because of a small side channel of the Skagit River cuts it off from the mainland, but in many places during the summer and fall it is possible to jump over the water that is barely running through it. On this island it isn’t uncommon to come across elk, deer, bear, and beaver. There are also great fishing opportunities here where salmon runs come through as well as trout and steelhead.
Twin Lakes (Skykomish Ranger District):
Figure 1, Twin Lakes. Photo Courtesy of the Student Conservation Association. http://www.thesca.org/
This one may not be “lesser known”, but I rarely hear anyone mention it. When I was 17 or 18 I took two of my friends on a hike to this lake. My father and uncle used to go up there to fish for trout in the 70s. Using a map he pointed out which trail to take to get up there, although he hadn’t been there in many years. We came up from the Troublesome Creek side off the Index-Galena RD, which has since washed out, but work to repair the road should start next year. It took two days of bushwhacking and consulting a map and compass to get to the lake, as the trail dad had mentioned had long since grown over. When we got to the ridge between Twin Lakes and Silver Lakes we saw why it had been neglected. We had come up from the south, but standing on that ridge looking down to the north was a nicely maintained, gravel layered trail that comes up from Monte Cristo in the south east corner of the Darrington Ranger District.
The lake itself is absolutely gorgeous and offers a great opportunity to catch some nice rainbow trout. There were also small glaciers on the northern facing slopes at the time; this would have been about 2002. There is a small spring or glacier feed creek on the west side that drains Columbia Peak. The water is so clean you probably don’t even need to treat it. I said probably!
You can also take a path that splits the two lakes and try to take a look at the waterfall that drains the lake into Troublesome Creek, but it gets very steep over there. Even if this way looks like a “shortcut” back down to the Index-Galena RD, trust me, it is not.