Lake Donald

August 29th, 2013 in Trips, Trails, & Tours

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We headed up to Lake Donald for a family backpack recently. It was a perfect trip! Lake Donald is tucked up against McCue Ridge at 5870 feet. Along the route there is much to see and the surroundings change continually. The round trip to Lake Donald is about 7 miles.  Add another mile or two for wandering the High Meadows or bagging peaks and you have a manageable, fun backpack with lots to do. Following the road past High Camp and continuing to Picnic Point, then hopping onto the Forest Service trail to Lake Julius is one way to start your trip. You can also head up Mac’s Express to Low Road and turn right on the Forest Service trail coming down from McCue Ridge and follow it to Lake Julius and beyond. 

As the trail drops to Roaring Creek on its way to Lake Julius the first challenge is crossing the creek. Of course as the summer progresses this crossing becomes easier.  There are logs across the creek to help you along your way. The trail gently rises to Lake Julius then hugs the lake shore continuing to climb to Loch Eileen.  The outlet of Loch Eileen is a great place for a rest. Here the trail ends and you need to check your map to make sure you are on the right route. Cross the outlet and follow the cairns up the ridge climbing above Loch Eileen. This can be challenging with a backpack; poles really help. At the top of the ridge traverse over to Lake Donald. The campsites nearest to the lake are at the outlet.

If you have given yourself the gift of a two night stay you can wander the High Meadows above Lake Donald. Tamarack Point, McWaukum Peak and Baldy are three high points to draw you up through these meadows. The babbling brook that falls through the little valley between Baldy and Tamarack is absolutely stunning as it moves through meadows of flowers and larch trees. Of course another option is just to stay at Lake Donald and fish.  After we climbed Baldy on our backpack we came back to Lake Donald and jumped into the icy waters.  Very invigorating!