Seattle, WA: Blethen Lakes

If you like splendid isolation with a little challenge, try this messy 11-mile out-and-back to the Blethlen Lakes along Quartz Creek.
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If you like splendid isolation with a little challenge, try this messy 11-mile out-and-back to the Blethlen Lakes along Quartz Creek.

This trail follows old logging roads built atop long abandoned mining roads used to access the quartz and copper from the Rainy Mine, worked intermittently until 1957. Today the road is lined with second-generation hemlock and cedar, now shouldering out the alder and huckleberry that took over after clear cutting in the 1970s, making for a pleasant—albeit challenging—road hike. 

Beginning at the end of Forest Road 56, just before the Taylor River Bridge, veer to the left at a signed juncture pointing toward Quartz Creek along the often muddy and rocky roadbed. The sharply pointed top of Mt. Garfield can be seen to the east, as well as Quartz Mountain across the valley. At roughly two miles a spur veers up to the right toward Rooster Mountain; keep left to continue on to the Blethen Lakes. As the route progresses, the quality of the road/trail progressively degrades. Occasional blowdowns block the trail, and the creek crossings are not bridged, with the exception of a single log that spans one ravine.

The road ends and gives way to real trail at a creek roughly a half-mile from the first lake. Lower Blethen Lake is not overly impressive, but you're almost guaranteed solitude. To reach the next lake, continue around the lakeshore and up the 500’ pass at the far end to reach Upper Blethen Lake and a close encounter with the craggy top of Bessemer Mountain. Enjoy the splendid isolation, and keep a watchful eye out for wildlife: rabbit, coyote and deer.

Mapped by Nathan & Jeremy Barnes Hiking With My Brother

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.8

Waypoints

BLE001

Location: 47.56051, -121.532533

Snoqualmie Lake Trail #1002. Park and cross the bridge over the Taylor River to start the hike.

BLE002

Location: 47.566181, -121.530105

Road Junction; turn left up Quartz Creek Trail #1236.

BLE003

Location: 47.569499, -121.549863

Trail fork; continue right and uphill. The trail left leads down to Quartz Creek.

BLE004

Location: 47.571686, -121.554404

Viewpoint and small camping area.

BLE005

Location: 47.573611, -121.556932

Trail fork; continue left toward Bethlan Lakes. The route leading up goes to Rooster Mountain and beyond.

BLE006

Location: 47.574372, -121.558848

Bridge out; descend the embankment to the left of the log bridge, cross under it and walk up stream to a 20ft waterfall.

BLE007

Location: 47.575333, -121.562541

Creek crossing.

BLE008

Location: 47.573881, -121.605889

Lower Lake Blethen. The saw blade cliffs of Bessemer Mountain command attention.

BLE009

Location: 47.568752, -121.610784

Upper Lake Blethen.

Trailhead

Location: 47.560586, -121.532285

Left at Signpost

Location: 47.566233, -121.530225

Valley View

Location: 47.571662, -121.554451

Looking across the valley to a seasonal waterfall skipping down the mountain side as a lonely cloud floats by.

Old Bridge

Location: 47.574267, -121.559043

Small Falls

Location: 47.575194, -121.562347

Near Bloom

Location: 47.577655, -121.579299

Lower Lake Blethen

Location: 47.573717, -121.605263

Twisting Stream

Location: 47.573341, -121.607237

Up the Pass

Location: 47.570214, -121.609211

Top of Pass

Location: 47.568911, -121.610241

Upper Lake Blethen

Location: 47.568622, -121.611099