Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Backpacking Packwood Lake

 What we walked into as we reach Packwood Lake Friday night
Our first night's setup
This neighbor dog did not like us, but he was nice to us cuz we were next to the water lol

Morning view
2nd night's camp spot
 Such a small spec in this big world
 We nicknamed this "The Lettuce Field"
 Hiking around
Call me Huck Finn
 Anyone there?
Headed back to the car!

Date Hiked: May 27-29, 2016
Trail & Location: Packwood Lake Trail in Packwood, WA Goat Rocks Wilderness
Mileage: estimated 13-15 miles total
Elevation gain: 600 feet
Difficulty: easy

Sarina and I had been planning to do a backpacking trip for Memorial weekend for weeks, and we were stoked for the upcoming long weekend. But as that weekend came closer, and the more we watched the forecast, our hopes of having a dry weekend in the PNW were getting squashed by rain. We had originally planned a 2 night trek along the Olympic Coast, starting at Rialto Beach and going north from there. But with rain in the forecast, we changed our plans. We looked east, we looked south, we looked into Oregon, and at the last minute, the day before we were planning on hitting the trails, we came across Packwood Lake. The weather looked decent in Packwood, with only a small chance of rain Friday, so we took our chances.

Packwood is less than 3 hours southeast of Seattle. We hit the road that Friday around 3 pm and made it into the city of Packwood around 6 pm. We made some pit stops, grabbed some food, and hit the trail head at 6:45 pm. We had a late start since both of us worked a full day and knew we had 4.5 miles to hike in to get to the lake, so we booked it. I was surprised myself but we made it before dark! (BTW, sun doesn't set in the PNW till like 9 pm these days) We ended up settling on a spot, pitched our tent, and called it a night around 10 pm. We made the mistake of pitching our tent on a hill though, so it wasn't the best night's sleep we got, but it was the only place we found that was decent that night before it got dark.

Saturday morning we woke up, ate breakfast, and decided on packing up camp and finding a better spot deeper in the woods. About a mile or so in, we found a better, more secluded spot right on the lake. Sweet! We set up camp, hung our hammock, ate lunch, and decided to hike around some more. We thought we could hike around the whole lake, but apparently there is no trail that goes around the whole lake. We went an hour or so down the trail and found out from other hikers that the trail goes for 5 more miles, takes you up to a saddle, then a mile from there it hits part of the PCT. Anyways, we weren't prepared for such a long trek since we left everything at our camp, so we turned back around after an hour or so of hiking.

We had originally thought about hiking to Mosquito or Lost Lake (both have terrible names don't you think?) but decided against it after hearing we might hit the snow line. We had read online that Packwood Lake is the first place for the snow to melt in Goat Rocks Wilderness.

The only trouble we had that Saturday was starting a fire. Being from California, I am not used to being able to have backcountry fires, with the drought going on, it's been drilled into my brain that any backcountry fire is considered arson lol. But up here in Washington, fires are allowed. Well I didn't bring the right tools to start a fire and was running out of matches. I also ran out of things to burn since the wood we collected wasn't catching. I mean, I even burned the map we were using .... not the smartest thing to do. We almost gave up. I turned to Sarina and said "The next person who walks by, I'll ask if they can help us start a fire." At this point not many people had walked by and on top of that we were kinda far from the trail, so I would have to yell at any passerby. But less than 10 minutes goes by, and this guy literally walks through our campsite with his dog. No one had walked through our campsite all day! Someone was watching out for us. I asked and he was more than helpful and got a good fire going for us. Thank you Justin from Auburn! After the fire got going though, we spent the next 5 hours collecting wood making sure the fire didn't die lol. I mean, it kept us busy! We made a freeze dried chicken and dumplings dinner that night, roasted some marshmallows, hammocked, and called it a night.

Sunday morning we woke up, ate breakfast, packed up camp, and hiked back out. Overall, it was an easy, relaxing backpacking trip for the weekend. I wish it had been hotter, the lake looked so inviting to swim in!

(And if you want to read Sarina's write up, click here)

Until next time Packwood!


  1. Mind blowing landscapes, loved to be there for some exciting adventures.
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  2. To prevent this, there are hammock tie-down straps that can be used to strap the hammock to the leg of the stand, making it more stable for getting in and out as well as lying in it. portable hammock stand