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Washington Backcountry Trails

A bear marking in the forest

The granite face we scrambled up

Our first glimpse of Kanim Lake

A camp at Kanim Lake

The cliff it is really steeper than it looks here

The outlet waterfall out of Kanim Lake


Kanim Lake

Kanim Lake

Definition of terms below
Location: Headwaters of the North Fork Snoqualmie River near the Alpine Lake Wilderness
Directions: Head out I-90 East to Exit 31 go about 1 mile and cross the railroad tracks and turn right at the stoplight (North Bend Way) then after a block or so turn left onto Ballarat St., which later becomes North Fork Road, continue on for about 4 miles to an unmarked Y junction take left fork (the right fork goes into the Ernie Grove housing area) follow the graveled FS #57 road for 15+ miles cross over the bridge and at the 3 way junction take the left road-FS #5731 continue to the end of road.
Difficulty: Strenuous bushwhack to lake
Elevation +/- About 3400 ft Total elevation gain 
Distance: 4.5 Miles Roundtrip
Rating: 9 out of 10
Fishing: Good
Lake info: Kanim Lake: el 4300, 18.0 acres,  "deep", cutthroat, rainbow trout
Scenery: Very brushy, big mountains around, alpine lakes, rugged country
Map: Printable Topo Map
Trip Date: Nov 18, 2001; 7:00am to 4:00pm roundtrip to trailhead 

Kanim Lake is worth a day hike or weekend visit. We opted for a day hike.

Trail Notes: If you like hiking through slide alder, devils club and thick brush this may be your new favorite bushwhack around the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. 

We parked at the end on FS #5731 and headed off into the brush on the left side of the valley, we angled our way up towards the ridge. Having a great time thrashing through the underbrush, we crossed several deep drainages that were partially frozen...this made it a little more exciting! Eventually breaking out of the some of the thickest forest (the trees were so thick I don't think we touched the dirt for 50+yards) to an awesome granite face, with a few streams navigating their way down, here also parts of the face were nothing but ice. We scampered our way up to gain some 'easy' elevation and then ducked into the brush. Well above the outlet waterfall, in the valley bottom, we traversed downward heading for the left side of the lake. As we peered downward though the trees we could see the lake--Hot Dog!

Kanim Lake is set deep in a bowl. The timber comes to the lakes edge on the northern shoreline and the southern shoreline is a boulder field. The snow line was up a few hundred feet from the lakeshore...truly a beautiful sight to see.

We tried our luck casting out lures for awhile (from the bank),  then looking out over the perfectly 'glass' lake we pumped up our rafts and set sail. No sooner did we get to the far end of the lake, with the ledge, the wind kicked up. Now fishing was a bit challenging with the 30+ mph wind gusts. And not to say it made it tougher to row against this wind, as if that was not enough the white caps were getting up to 10"+. But heck we were at a beautiful alpine lake having a great time.

So we rowed down to the outlet and beached our rafts at one of the campsites. We tried our hand at fishing off the rocks. It paid off I caught a whopper. The wind continued to blow and soon casting was becoming an art. We had to pivot a good 45 degrees in order to get our lures to land where we wanted them to. We scrambled on over the outlet and fished up most of the southern shoreline. The edges of the lake were starting to freeze up. To say the least it was a bit chilly this day. 

Done fishing we packed up our rafts and picked up a little bit of the garbage lying around. We figured we would try a different route out. So we paralleled the outlet to the waterfall and then cut to the right. We found a treacherous route down the face. Holding onto branches and lowering ourselves down to the next ledge. Making it to the bottom I was thankful I had not brought the dogs on this trip. We scrambled down the boulder field below the waterfall and found a route through the slide alder (This stretch would be allot tougher if all the ferns and weeds were still standing). Heading into the trees we found it easier going, although there is still plenty of devils club, prickly bushes and slide alder to contend with.

There are a couple of established camps near the outlet of Kanim Lake with fire pits, benches, the whole 9 yards.

Fishing: We had a great day fishing but catching was a bit slow. There is plenty of bank fishing opportunities along the southern shoreline off the boulder field. A raft would be your best choice so you can get out into the deep water. There are also a few logs you could tie your raft off to for some still fishing or an afternoon nap.

 Do it again? Yes, probably we will head up the valley along the NFK of the Snoqualmie River until we hit the waterfall, then scramble up the cliff on the left side of the waterfall to the lake, maybe heading over to Coney Lake.

Please Note: There is not a trail to this lake, it may be a dangerous adventure if you are not an experienced backcountry nut and/or don't have the correct equipment.

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