Anderson Butte and Watson Lakes

After our slog through the snow to Park Butte, we hiked to Anderson Butte and Watson Lakes on day 2. It was a hot day for hiking.

This time we drove up into the hills on the east side of Baker Lake instead of the west side. Up and up and up we drove, with more and more views of Mt. Baker through the trees. When we finally arrived at the trailhead, there were more than 30 cars there! I think a fair number of them belonged to people who had been backpacking. It was a Sunday and we saw a number of backpackers hiking out as we hiked in.

We saw a sign at the trailhead that a WTA crew was working on the trail. Sure enough, we passed them about a mile in. They were cheerful and friendly and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Thanks gang, for your hard work!

Before heading to the lakes, we took the side trail up to Anderson Butte. That was one rough trail. It was steep and rocky and rooty and after the snowy exertions the day before, this little trail to Anderson Butte was kicking my butt. Fortunately, though, it was less than a mile up to the top, and man were the views fantastic!

We could see Mt. Baker to the west and Mt. Shuksan to the north….

And we could see the snowy peaks of North Cascades National Park, right next door to where we were in the Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness:

Here’s a video showing almost the whole 360-degree view.

After soaking up the stupendous views, we hiked back down to the main trail and continued on to Watson Lakes. We had to cross one large snowy meadow, but that was it for snow.

After gaining elevation all this time, we lost a lot of elevation after the meadow. The trail descended to another smaller meadow, which the trail crossed via a very nice boardwalk.

At the end of the meadow the trail splits. You can go right to Anderson Lake or left to Watson Lakes. We would not have time or energy for Anderson Lake on this trip, but headed for Watson Lakes. Now we gained elevation again, crested a ridge, and descended again to the lakes. Here’s our first view of this beautiful place!

You reach the western of the two lakes first, but we headed straight for the eastern lake. There are lots of user trails and campsites around. It reminded me of a smaller version of Jefferson Park. And man, what a beautiful place to camp! Greg and I want to come back and do this as a backpack. Absolutely lovely.

While Greg was bushwhacking around for the geocache, I took off my boots and stood in two feet of lake water. Oh wow did that ever feel good. It was a hot day, plus my leg sunburn from the day before was soothed by the cold water. I could have stayed there all day. There were plenty of people about, but they were spread out and all the backpackers from the night before were gone, so it was relatively quiet.

Watson Lakes has two big lakes and one very small lake. The trail doesn’t go down there, though you could definitely just head there cross-country. Probably a good spot to escape the crowds at the big eastern lake.

A note about the mosquitoes. We had heard that they can be AWFUL here. They were out, for sure, but they weren’t that bad, really. I don’t know if they were just getting started or if their peak time was dwindling, but we lucked out.

On our way out we stopped by the western lake for some pictures while the lake enjoyed a brief moment of calm and reflected Bacon Peak nicely.

And then we hiked the up-down-up-down trail back out to the car. Despite the roller-coaster nature of the trail, this hike is definitely worth it. I’m a sucker for pretty lakes with mountain views and this is one of the nicer ones I’ve been to. It’s 6 miles round-trip and 1,400 feet elevation gain to Watson Lakes, more if you go to Anderson Butte and/or Anderson Lake. Can’t wait to go back and spend the night!