What this trail lacks in length, it makes up for in scenery. Bring the kids (and your camera) and start from the parking pullout along FR 9712. It’s a steep uphill climb past the sign post, but the trail quickly levels out as you enter grassy meadows filled with lupines and giant, old-growth western larch that turn golden shades of yellow in mid-October. Look for the spectacular mountainside of rocks that rises on the right-hand side of the trail, displaying the area’s geologic history.
After 0.2 mile, the trail travels through burned larch and pine forest (home to masses of busy woodpeckers) and lush meadows brimming with wildflowers. Less than a mile later, cross a bridge over an outlet creek, then bear right at the Y-junction to reach Clara Lake, a skinny and shallow mountain lake. At mile 1.1, the trail drops down to the spectacular Marion Lake where you may spot nesting grebes and mergansers ushering their young around the green waters. Drop your packs and stay for awhile, or turn around and return to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography