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Alpinejo.tripod.com: Backcountry Trails Guide
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Washington Backcountry Trails

Partially frozen Lower Paradise Lake

A great reflection in Lower Paradise Lake

A fish I caught and released



Paradise and Bench Lakes

Paradise Lakes

Definition of terms below
Location: North Fork Snoqualmie River in 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 lakes
Elevation +/- About 2681 ft Total elevation gain 
Distance: 4+ Miles Roundtrip
Rating: 9 out of 10
Fishing: Good
Lake info: Middle Paradise Lake: el 4078, 22.9 acres,  "deep", cutthroat, brook, rainbow trout
Lower Paradise Lake: el 4050, 5 acres, cutthroat, brook, rainbow trout
Bench Lake (upper Paradise Lake): el 4180, 2.4 acres
Scenery: Very brushy, big mountains around, alpine lakes, rugged country
Map: Printable Topo Map
Trip Date: Nov 9, 2001; 8:00am to 4:00pm roundtrip to trailhead 

Paradise Lakes and Bench Lake is worth a day hike or weekend visit. We opted for a day hike.

Trail Notes: The trail starts off nice for a short spell, down an overgrown road for a hundred yards or so...then the work begins, then you cross the upper creek and thrash your way down to the NFK of the Snoqualmie River then the bushwhack begins up to the lakes. 

We started of full of vim-an-vigor, on a beautiful morning-cloudless sky and hopes of some warm November weather..we were not disappointed. The bushwhack along the NFK was not too bad hiking in the timber, but as we headed up to the lakes it got a little tougher. We had a blast busting through slide alder and devils club-the like I have not seen since we went into Dream Lake. We headed up missing most of the cliffs &  waterfalls and ended up climbing up the ridge in 6+ inches of snow. 

Looking down on the lakes was a great inspiration, we then headed down the ridge to the nearly frozen Lower Paradise Lake, skirted its shoreline and followed the outlet up to Middle Paradise Lake (the biggest and deepest of the three lakes in the basin). We found a nice big rock in the sun and dropped our packs. We broke out the fishing rods and let the lures fly. My brother pumped up his raft and set sail for the far end of the lake. Not taking the raft to conserve weight, (kicking myself all the way) I took the dogs along the shoreline. Nasty brush and thorny bushes--ouch! I enjoyed the sun until it went behind the ridge at 1:30pm. I ventured on up to Bench Lake (Upper Paradise Lake) to find it completely frozen--nuts! 

We had some lunch and figured we would try a different route out. So we skirted the eastern snow slopes of Lower Paradise Lake and found a 'trail' down along the outlet stream. We came across the remnants of a old car-camping tent (heavy canvas and 1 inch dia. poles) and some type of old structure-sheet metal and numerous timbers lay in a heap. We soon lost our 'trail' in the snow and just decided to bonzai down through the devil club, slide alder and other brush until we hit the NFK again (allot nicer going down). The dogs (Chesapeake Bay Retriever and a Weimaraner )  did great, they are pretty hardy.

There is one nice camp near the outlet of Middle Paradise Lake, it was covered in snow. We did happen to notice someone forgot to take there dinner plate and 2 quart coffee pot home with them.

Fishing: I caught one nice fish and my brother had some good bites. 

 Do it again? Yes, probably we will take the #1037 Bare Mtn. trail off FS #57, and head past Bear Lakes continuing on to the Paradise Lakes and then over to Kanim Lake.

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

Other Links:
WTA Trip Report 
VTrail Trip Report - Bare Mtn Trail #1037
Explore2drx - Bare Mtn
Tom Davenport has some nice pictures of the area

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