Bead Lake is a hidden marvel, stashed away in this northeast corner of Washington state. Trail 127 traces the eastern shore of the lake beneath a cooling canopy of cedars and pines to West Lodge Creek, then presents the option to hop onto trail 127.1, a spur trail leading to a secluded bay perfect for a cooling dip. For the most part the hillside drops steeply into the lake, but a number of flat places are available for camping, making this ideal for a family backpacking trip.
|Rating||3.3 out of 5|
|Difficulty||Easy (except for the spur trail–moderate)|
|Duration||3:48 hours moving time (hiking)|
|Elevation Gain||1,028 feet|
|High Point||3,171 feet|
|Low Point||2,838 feet|
|Trailbed||Packed dirt, loose rocks, old logging roads|
|Water||The lake and 3 tributaries|
|Administration||Kaniksu National Forest|
|Permits||No fee unless you park at the boat launch parking lot|
|Conditions||Excellent, except for the spur trail|
|Camping||There are designated camping spots throughout the hike; look for firepits with a metal grate near the lakeshore|
|Maps||USGS Bead Lake|
|Trailhead||From Newport, WA, drive east on highway 2 across the Pend Oreille River. Take a left onto LeClerc Road immediately after crossing and follow LeClerc for 3.5 miles. Take a right onto Bead Lake Road and follow that to the south end of the lake. There are signs pointing right towards Bead Lake. There is a dirt road and a blacktopped road. Take the dirt road for half a mile uphill to the upper trailhead, or take the blacktopped road, then take the first right, to reach the lower trailhead at the boat launch parking lot (fee required).
Google Directions (48.286951, -117.110888)
|Squirrel Density||Oh yeah! But dogs must be leashed.|
|Date||May 21, 2017|
At the upper trailhead the path starts to the left of the information sign, dropping down the hillside in a few switchbacks to the rear end of the lower trailhead. There, you’ll find another information sign and a trail register. The trail then follows a wide old logging road, which contours along the hill high above the lake. As the logging road turns into a single-track, perhaps half a mile into the hike, the first campsites down at the lake shore come into view. The trail curls around a small bay and as it re-approaches the lake on the far side the trees retreat for the first unfiltered views of the lake. Magnificent!
The trail continues along the lake shore, a nice path of packed dirt or lose rock that is well maintained. The hillside is fairly steep, however, making the short descent to the lake a serious bushwhack in most places.
A bit over a mile into the hike the trail dissects Enchantment Camp, a fairly large boy scout camp with sites scattered to the left and right of the trail. Soon after the camp the trail heads inland and climbs a ridge jutting into the lake. On the uphill portion the tree cover changes from cedar to pine and fir and even a few larches. The ridge top marks the high point of the hike, then it’s downhill and this shadier side once again is thickly covered with cedar. At the bottom you’ll cross a small brook via a convenient footbridge (follow the brook to the lake for perhaps the nicest campsite along the lake with a perfect lakeview from your tent!).
The trail continues along the lake shore and reaches the northernmost tip around the 4.5-mile mark. It then follows West Lodge Creek for a short distance to a fork, with the main trail continuing along the creek to forest road 3215 and the left branch (spur trail 127.1) following the lake’s shore for another mile or so.
The first half of the spur trail is in decent shape, even though the foot bridges show signs of decay and are very slippery. The trail is more overgrown and the grade more uneven. You’ll move past a cabin tucked into the woods, on a patch of private land and accessible only by boat. Once you get to to a little brook without bridge the trail seriously deteriorates and in many places is little more than a game trail.
Towards the end the trail climbs a small knoll, then rounds the corner and drops into a secluded bay. There, a stranded log and a few large rocks provide a nice platform for a quick refreshing dip. Return to the trailhead the way you came.
Enjoy this hike? Let us know in the comments below!
Not so great
- Motor boats can be noisy, but there weren’t too many around
- The trail is very popular; expect heavy traffic. You might have a hard time finding an unused campsite. All sites were taken on the day of our visit (a Sunday morning with overnight lows near freezing)
- Instead of taking the spur trail you can continue on trail 127 until it meets up with FR 3215 and shuttle back to the trailhead if you have 2 cars
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