Lightning Creek Landing

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Review

Lightning Creek Landing is a popular center of activity on the eastern shore of Ross Lake. Its location about midway north to south makes it both a land and a water crossroads. Boaters, hikers and backcountry horsemen all pass through this area and many of them stay for one or more days. Addressing its popularity, the Park Service requires all campers to pre-register. This insures that all users have access to camping and the number of campers does not exceed the capacity of the facilities.

Visitors to the Landing with larger boats can take advantage of the shore-side dock making drop-offs and pick-ups much easier. However, due to the managed low lake levels in the spring, early season visitors may find a wide mud and sand shore stretching between the current lake level and the dock which may literally be high and dry. Paddlers and those with small craft may have more landing options but they too will have to consider a long carry, at least of their camping gear, across this seasonal beach. By mid-summer the lake is usually at or near "full-pool" and the dock should be floating with a good depth of water beneath it.

Hikers coming up the East Bank Trail will find that Lightning Creek Landing marks a milestone in their trek. If continuing north toward Hozomeen they will find that the next trail, Lightning Creek Trail, provides them with a different wilderness experience. Instead of lake side camps and views they’ll find more mountains and deep stream valleys. For hikers arriving by boat this is the beginning of their adventure. In addition to the two through-trails, and probably most famous of all, is the Desolation Peak Trail. This steep one-way trail switch-backs up the west face of Desolation Peak to reach the mountain’s summit and the historic Desolation Peak Fire Lookout. The view is spectacular but adding to the building’s interest is its association with one of the young lookouts who once spent a summer up here, Jack Kerouac of literary fame.

Despite the number of people that call the Landing their temporary home, the wildlife in the area has adapted, almost too well. While typically not considered very ferocious, deer have occasionally become pests here seeking out trash and food items to satisfy their almost desperate desire for salt. Make sure that you use available food caches properly including food vaults and hanging wires. Bears are only rarely seen and as long as campers keep their sites and particularly their food items secure they shouldn’t become a problem. Mornings are a special time; early risers have the best chance for wildlife sightings just before dawn. The lake shore gives the best views and the soft damp shoreline can often reveal something about the previous night’s wild visitors. The activity of some of the bird species peaks in the morning so you may have to get that early start if you’re going to have the best bird watching. The sun rises behind you so morning warmth can be slow in coming to the camp but the views to the west across the lake are illuminated beautifully. Watch for the sunrise shadows of the mountains behind you projected against the slopes of the opposite lake shore. Can you identify any of them?

With so many activities to do, places to visit, things to see and so many potential loops to connect; Lighting Creek Landing offers a lot of options. Through trekkers find an enjoyable and beautiful location for one of their camps. Boaters can actually make Desolation Peak a strenuous day trip. Others may enjoy arranging for drop-offs and pick-ups with the Ross Lake Resort water taxi. History, nature, and recreation all combine to make this one of the exceptional locations in the scenic Ross Lake watershed.
Written By: Bud Hardwick
On: 6/21/2010

Directions

The Lightning Creek Landing is on the east shore of Ross Lake just north of Lightning Creek. This is about midway between the north and south ends of Ross Lake. A dock allows larger boats shore access but only later in the summer when the lake levels have risen high enough to float the dock. Land connections with the landing are limited to the trail from Hozomeen Camp to the north and the East Bank Trail from the south.

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