Hozomeen Trail

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Review

Photo Credit: Bud Hardwick
Hozomeen camp is popular for its boat launch and as the only drive-up location that exists for Ross Lake. From this location, the Hozomeen Trail is the only trail option for visitors to the camp and is the only land connection with the rest of the extensive trail system in the U.S. Luckily for those who prefer a trail rather than a water route, traveling on the Hozomeen Trail is a rewarding experience; ancient trees, deep forests, scenic lakes, rich wetlands, and mountain passes decorate the route. This northernmost segment of the East Bank Trail forms the connecting link between Lightning Creek Trail and Hozomeen Camp (see related articles this website).

The Hozomeen trailhead is next to an historic ranger cabin functionally located alongside the clear tumbling creek waters that flow from remote and beautiful Hozomeen Lake and off the slopes of rocky Hozomeen Mountain. This well used historic trail has had many past names, descriptive of the features that it passes including Jackass Pass Trail and Willow Lake Trail. Rising over the shoulder of Little Jackass Mountain the tread is moderately steep but climbs steadily. After only a mile and a half the grade eases providing more opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest. Densely wooded and often dark, the forest can be cool and comfortable on a hot day, or mysterious and spooky when cloudy or overcast. Lodgepole pines among other tree species line the trail allowing views into the low understory where a cloak of green moss seems to cover everything.

Before long the trail passes a junction with the Hozomeen Lake Trail. This short trail to the lakeside campground is seasonally closed April 1st through May 31st to protect the few remaining pairs of nesting loons in this area. When open it offers one of the finest views of Hozomeen Mountain possible; the massive rock crags seemingly emerging from the waters of the nearby lake.

Though Hozomeen Lake access may be seasonally restricted, Willow Lake campground is open year-round and requires only a small amount of elevation gain as the trail continues eastward. Just before reaching long marshy Willow Lake, the ruins of old trapper’s cabins may be visible along the side of the trail. The shallowness of Willow Lake provides excellent wetland habitat for a host of wildlife and plants that would otherwise have a difficult time surviving in the dense surrounding forests. In the long succession and interactions of geologic forces and plant life, the low pass presently occupied by Willow Lake will one day become firm ground and with time will probably become indistinguishable from the trailside forest.

A short distance beyond Willow Lake the trail gains a few more feet of elevation as it passes over the northeastern most ridge of famous Desolation Peak. Though situated between stunningly scenic mountain peaks the dense forest bordering the trail allows only limited distant views. From the top of this short rise, the trail plunges down into the Lightning Creek drainage to Nightmare Camp as it works its way south before returning to the shores of Ross Lake.

A trip along the Hozomeen Trail may be the end of a long fascinating journey along the entire length of the East Bank Trail or a pleasant day hike from Hozomeen Camp. Overnight travelers should remember that all campsites in the National Park and National Recreation Area require preregistration, and are frequently assigned to specific user groups (stock, hiker, and boat-in). After May 31st, Hozomeen Lake makes an ideal day hike destination and when sites are available, offers one of the most scenic forest campsites in the North Cascades.
Written By: Bud Hardwick
On: 6/21/2010

Directions

Hozomeen Trail begins (or ends) at the top of the upper campground at Hozomeen Camp, located at the north end of Ross Lake. The trailhead is located adjacent to the historic Ranger Cabin. This trail is the northernmost segment of the East Bank Trail (see articles this website).

Map

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