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Walkin' Fool
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PostTue Dec 22, 2020 5:06 pm 
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After having the magical experience of being serenaded by loons for hours in Glacier NP earlier this year, I’ve become a bit obsessed and would like nothing more than to hear that again. I’m thinking of taking a birthday trip the end of May to Bonaparte Lake, as I understand there are sometimes loons there.

I’m not familiar with that area, and could be there for 4-5 days to make the most of a long drive. I would love some recommendations for (i) day hikes from near the campground, and (ii) if there are any good 1 or 2-night backpacks accessible from close to Bonaparte Lake (say, within an hour or so drive).

Finally, and I know it’s dependent on the year, but is there normally a significant amount of snow the end of May at those higher elevations, like at the Bonaparte LO?

Thanks!!
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treeswarper
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PostTue Dec 22, 2020 7:20 pm 
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Not sure if the FS campground will be open in May. You'll need to check with the FS at the Tonasket RD.    Next door to the campground is the Bonaparte Lake Resort which is open year round and has cabins, RV sites and I think, maybe tent sites?  They also have excellent burgers.  Last year when I was up there, they had a lot of earth moving going on and I do not know if the café was open or not--Covid. 

The lookout is usually still snowy in May--at least that's what I found to be the case in the 1990s.  I haven't hiked up there since.  We turned back one time because the snow was too deep, but also, we were hiking from Meyers Creek.  Like all mountains, the snow depth varies year to year. There are a couple three ways to hike to Bonaparte Lookout.  For me, and I am slow, I would turn it into a backpack trip if I went from the Bonaparte Lake side.  That trail is also part of the Pacific Northwest Trail so you could do what you want on it.  From what I've heard, a goodly portion of that official trail is on roads in the Okanogan Highlands area. 

And yes, there are usually loons there.  Here is a photo of my dog at Bonaparte Lake.   I sometimes pull my little travel trailer up to that area.


There are other short hikes in that area.  None are in "pristine wilderness".  I've been up the Strawberry Mountain Trail which goes through the cowish woods and ends up where a lookout used to be.  There is no view anymore at the tippytop because the trees have grown up, but there is an opening part way up. 

There is the Virginia Lily trail, which I've not been on. 

And, the  Bonaparte Lookout trail has a little loop which I've not done.  I've only been part way up from the lake side.

About 5 miles up the road is the Big Tree Botanical area which has some decent sized Larch trees with a little trail going around in it.


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smp77
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PostWed Dec 23, 2020 12:03 pm 
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I am very familiar with this area and it's one of my favorite places in the state. I hope you have a fun trip!

Day hikes:
Hike to the top of Bonaparte to the lookout. There are a few different trailheads.
Hike the Pippsissewa trail on the far side of Lake Bonaparte to a rocky overlook of the lake. You can also access one of the Bonaparte trailheads from here for a hike that is about 14 miles RT from the lake to the lookout,
Strawberry Mountain near Lost Lake, just north of Bonaparte
Fir Mountain (old lookout site) about 40 minutes east on Hwy 20
Maple and Clackamas Mountail loop (across the street from the Fir Mtn TH)
Virginia Lilly Trail near  Bonaparte Lake.

Backpacking:
Circumnavigate Bonaparte (25 ish miles). This is on my to-do list for the summer. Camping on the summit would be amazing.
Kettle Crest trail east of Republic (hour ish drive). The trail is 44 miles long and bisected by Hwy 20, so sections would also be good for day hikes. Sherman Peak, Columbia Mountain, Edds Mountain, and the Snow Peak cabin are all great day hikes.

There will still be snow atop Bonaparte and at higher elevations. Not sure what constitutes "significant" but I've been turned around by snow before in June since I had no snowshoes. Kinda depends on the snowpack and weather.

If it's of interest to you, I have a Caltopo map with a number of hiking routes plotted out. I can PM you the link.
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Walkin' Fool
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PostWed Dec 23, 2020 1:21 pm 
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Thank you both for the helpful info! I'm excited to dig into some planning this winter, and now I have some great places to start.

@smp77, I would love a Caltopo link if you're willing to share.

Thanks again, and happy holidays!
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Schroder
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PostWed Dec 23, 2020 1:31 pm 
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I did the Virginia Lily trail in October. It's quick but very scenic. Also worthwhile is just driving through Bodie and up the Kettle River Valley to Curlew. We were going to do some of the Kettle Crest but it was already in snow.
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treeswarper
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PostWed Dec 23, 2020 2:19 pm 
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I now take my bicycle up there and ride around on the roads.  I might have one car go by.  It is near Bonaparte where a moose appeared.

I was working in the area in the 1990s and there was a wolverine that would skedaddle across the road near the resort.

It's a bit of a different world there.

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Hiker Mama
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PostSat Dec 26, 2020 12:55 pm 
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I don't know about the snow levels and campground opening dates, as I've only been up there once in the summer. But if Bonaparte is full when you go (as it was for me in the summer when I went), Lost Lake up above is really nice, and there are loons there. I actually liked it better than Bonaparte, but I like things more rustic and quiet. I'm not sure that will be accessible in May, though.

Good luck! It's a beautiful area, and I definitely want to go back!

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treeswarper
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PostSat Dec 26, 2020 2:11 pm 
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Hiker Mama wrote:
I don't know about the snow levels and campground opening dates, as I've only been up there once in the summer. But if Bonaparte is full when you go (as it was for me in the summer when I went), Lost Lake up above is really nice, and there are loons there. I actually liked it better than Bonaparte, but I like things more rustic and quiet. I'm not sure that will be accessible in May, though.

Good luck! It's a beautiful area, and I definitely want to go back!

Dammit! I purposely did not mention Lost Lake because it is my sekrit campground.  Big rigs do not fit in it and it is a smaller lake, farther up the road and is not as likely to be full.  It does not have the Bonaparte lookout trail taking off from it nor does it have the good burgers within an easy walk, so nobody should ever camp there.

I have never camped there when the kids camps are being used.  They might be a game changer.  There is a 4-H camp located almost inside the FS campground and there is a Lutheran? camp on the other side.  Those might be game changers.

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What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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Stefan-K
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PostTue Jan 12, 2021 10:22 am 
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Bonaparte?  Did someone say Bonaparte?


"...ein bißchen Mut ein bißchen Geist...  🎵  🎵


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