Location: Mountain Loop Highway near Darrington
Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Roundtrip: 9.6 miles
Elevation gain: 2500 feet
Green Trails Maps: Mountain Loop Highway 111 SX
Contact: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District
Notes: Access road is washed out at mile 3.4 requiring an additional 2.2 mile one way hike or mountain bike.
Good to know: access road washed out making hike longer, kid-friendly, dog-friendly, old-growth
Access: From Darrington follow the Mountain Loop Highway for 8.5 miles turning right onto FR 2080 (turnoff located just before Sauk River bridge). Continue on FR 2080 for 1.1 miles turning right onto FR 2081. Follow this road for 2.3 miles to a washout where a turn around and parking are available.
bearing left onto FR 2086. Reach trailhead at road end in one mile.
Good to Know: exceptional old-growth; kid-friendly, dog-friendly
Sitting in a peaceful little cirque on a ridge high above the Sauk River is pretty little Peek-a-boo Lake. Unimposing and tucked away in a rugged landscape, the hike once short, is now much longer making this destination more peaceful than the past. The trail is in decent shape, but is a little rocky and rooty in places. Start your hike by carefully walking around the road washout. Then walk 1.2 miles up grassy and gently graded FR 2081. Then take a left onto FR 2086 and walk this road for a steep one mile to the trailhead. Here the trail begins on an old logging road in scrappy forest, but quickly transitions to true trail in impressive old growth. Climbing gently at first, the grade soon intensifies leading up a thickly forested 4,350-foot ridge. Massive hemlock, fir, and cedar as well as babbling brooks and a lush understory of greenery help keep your attention off of the climb.
The trail then begins to lose some of that hard-earned elevation gain, and after a half mile breaks out into a picturesque parkland meadow. Pass by a delightful little tarn and continue through more meadows. Using care not to trounce delicate vegetation, leave the trail for the eastern edge of the meadow for a breathtaking view of White Chuck Mountain and Mount Pugh hovering over the Sauk River Valley.
Peek-a-boo still waits, so head back to the trail where it returns to forest dropping about 300-feet on rough tread to the placid body-of-water in an emerald bowl of stately evergreens. Now enjoy Peek-a-boo Lake fully revealed. A refreshing swim-an afternoon nap-a little fishing-or just an afternoon of pure relaxation!
For information on lodging and other attractions near the North Fork Sauk River, visit www.snohomish.org
For more information on this hike and many others nearby, consult my Day Hiking North Cascades Book.