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

The cushy trail in the forest


Philippa and Isabella Lakes

Philippa Lake

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 (past the Spur 10 gate) for 12+ there will be a wide pull off on the left to park at, Weyerhauser road 29200 goes off to the right.
Difficulty: Strenuous bushwhack to lakes
Elevation +/- About 2700 ft Total elevation gain
Distance: 8+ Miles Roundtrip
Rating: 10 out of 10
Fishing: Good
Lake info: Philippa Lake: el 3346, 121.4 acres,  60+ft deep, cutthroat, rainbow trout
Isabella Lake: el 3510, 12.5 acres, cutthroat trout
Scenery: Very brushy, waterfall, alpine lakes, rugged country
Map: Printable Topo Map
Trip Date: Nov 11, 2001; 7:30am to 3:00pm roundtrip to trailhead 

Philippa Lake and Isabella Lake is worth a day hike or weekend visit. This trip was a day hike.

Trail Notes: a bit of logging road hiking, then a muddy section of trail, then the best part ...bushwhacking up Philippa Creek and the rock scramble up to Isabella Lake. 

Ducking under the locked gate, we were off - the logging road made it easy to make good time on the first mile and a half. Then proceed up the logging road crossing the nice bridge over Philippa Creek. Bear right at the first fork, bear left at the next fork (it crosses the creek), bear right at the next fork and proceed to the end of the road. The trail leads off into the brush. 

The first part of the fisherpersons trail is a bit muddy and relatively flat, but it soon turns dry as you hike along the east side of Philippa Creek in the forest. Then you will hit the waterfall,  find a good log to cross over to the west side of the creek. Now the fun begins... the 'trail' now goes up up and up you will find root  and rock scrambles and some great Washington brushy areas. About halfway up you will hit a large open alder patch.  Use your route finding skills to follow a faint path through the opening.  Look for a large tree on the stream side near the cliff base to aim for.  Get close to it and you will find a route to get you amongst the cliffs. Proceed on up the last stretch to crest out above Philippa Lake. You made it! No garbage to speak of, a nice change compared to many of the other lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Head on down to the outlet and the log jam for a nice boat launch and your first chance to chuck out some of your favorite lures and/or flies. Philippa Lake is a big lake--take a raft. 

Head on down to the southern end of the lake to the open rock slide. Here deflate your raft and do a short rock scramble up to the right of the Isabella Lake outlet. The shoreline of Isabella is also brushy. Inflate your raft and head on out for some good fishing.

There is one nice camp near the outlet of Philippa Lake.

Fishing: caught some nice fish, using a modified brown vibrax spinner. The shoreline has some nasty thorny and thick brush, and many more--take a raft to spare yourself the misery.

 Do it again? Yes, probably we will base camp at Phlippa, and head up to Isabella then bushwhack on over to Upper Loch Katrine Lake.

Please Note: There is not a maintained trail to these lakes, 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 Reviews

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