Forum Index > Trip Reports > Sunday Lake - May 2, 2023
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ALW Hiker
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Joined: 27 Jul 2021
Posts: 128 | TRs | Pics
Location: Redmond, WA
ALW Hiker
lakebagger
PostSat May 06, 2023 10:10 am 
Our lakebagging duo decided to head for Sunday Lake last Tuesday. It was a warm spring day and perfect conditions for our first trip here. Fun fact - Sunday Lake is the lowest (named) lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and the only one below 2000' of elevation. In the flats around the marsh, there is an excellent view of the Loch Katrine Fire burn area. Fortunately, it looks like many of the trees right around the lake were spared - I confirmed this on the latest FreshSat imagery.
Looking downstream from the Sunday Creek Bridge
Looking downstream from the Sunday Creek Bridge
Marsh crossings
Marsh crossings
Loch Katrine area - lake is behind the burned knob at left center
Loch Katrine area - lake is behind the burned knob at left center
Little Kid cliffs
Little Kid cliffs
When we reached Sunday Creek, the water was pretty fast through the narrower spot where the trail hits it. We crossed onto the big island to the right, then a smaller island downstream of that and found a safe crossing.
Sunday Creek where the trail crosses. This was too fast and deep, and there were some menacing trees extending into the creek just downstream.
Sunday Creek where the trail crosses. This was too fast and deep, and there were some menacing trees extending into the creek just downstream.
From the small island. We crossed just above the rapids here.
From the small island. We crossed just above the rapids here.
Crossing - about 50-60' wide at this point, but rarely above our knees
Crossing - about 50-60' wide at this point, but rarely above our knees
The trail is in good shape to the lake, apart from one spot where a creek is running down it, and a few annoying blowdowns. We cleared as much of the loose stuff as we could. We started hitting snow about 1/2 mile before the lake, and followed some footprints that seemed less than a few days old.
The messiest blowdown, unfortunately in an area with water in the trail and brushy
The messiest blowdown, unfortunately in an area with water in the trail and brushy
Props to whoever crosscut this tree 12' off the ground!
Props to whoever crosscut this tree 12' off the ground!
Sunday Lake
Sunday Lake
Sunday Lake
Sunday Lake
Lakebagging
Lakebagging
We continued on past the lake. The trail was decent and easy to follow, but we eventually lost it at a talus field and in the snow. We would occasionally see pieces of it as we continued south. Our original goal was to try and reach Honey Lake (we even had our snowshoes), but the going was fairly slow through rocks and holes in the snow. Too many obstacles for our snowshoes to be worth putting on. We saw a spectacular waterfall to the west off Twin Peaks - more on that later.
South end of the lake
South end of the lake
About where we lost the trail in the rocks
About where we lost the trail in the rocks
Impressive waterfall - this creek drops from the tarn way up near the summit of Twin Peaks
Impressive waterfall - this creek drops from the tarn way up near the summit of Twin Peaks
Nice view up toward Honey and Mowitch Lakes
Nice view up toward Honey and Mowitch Lakes
Closeup - the cliffs at center right here are just below the Quartz Creek / Rooster Mountain tarns, and Honey Lake is in the bowl to the right
Closeup - the cliffs at center right here are just below the Quartz Creek / Rooster Mountain tarns, and Honey Lake is in the bowl to the right
Navigating the spring melt
Navigating the spring melt
We stopped for lunch at a cool mossy spot overhanging Sunday Creek - you could look down through the tree roots and see the maelstrom below. This was a bit under a mile past the south end of the lake.
Sunday Creek at our turnaround point
Sunday Creek at our turnaround point
We had lunch in the trees at right
We had lunch in the trees at right
After this, we turned around and decided to head for the waterfall we saw earlier. The brush didn't seem that far but it was a solid 25-30 minutes of bushwhacking to get to the base of the falls. Thank goodness the brush hadn't leafed out yet! From up close, the falls look a bit like Teneriffe Falls, and the spray was very refreshing. You need to be farther away (like below all the brush!) to see the whole thing.
Brush trifecta - vine maple, slide alder, and devil's club
Brush trifecta - vine maple, slide alder, and devil's club
And don't forget the salmonberries!
And don't forget the salmonberries!
Already too close to see the whole falls
Already too close to see the whole falls
Looking down to the brushfest
Looking down to the brushfest
Almost there
Almost there
Base of the falls
Base of the falls
Descending
Descending
We fought our way down through the brush and were thrilled to be back in the forest. I stopped to check out the lower lake on the way back and we checked out the old logging camp(s) on the way down, which we somehow hadn't even noticed on the hike in. The creek crossing was a nice break. We returned to the car just about 10 hours after we started. A fun adventure and a nice lake.
Lower lake campsite
Lower lake campsite
Lower lake
Lower lake
Loch Katrine fire damage just above the Sunday Creek crossing - only 100' or so away from the trail
Loch Katrine fire damage just above the Sunday Creek crossing - only 100' or so away from the trail
Tale of two fires - Little Kid at left (2017) and Loch Katrine at right (2022)
Tale of two fires - Little Kid at left (2017) and Loch Katrine at right (2022)

Fedor, Now I Fly, yukon222, Bramble_Scramble, mosey, Riverside Laker, The Ghost of Bear 380, jaysway, wallorcrawl
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mosey
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PostSat May 06, 2023 1:45 pm 
You didn't include a picture of the crawler! I thought that was pretty interesting.

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ALW Hiker
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Location: Redmond, WA
ALW Hiker
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PostSat May 06, 2023 3:50 pm 
Yeah, I left out the old vehicles since I posted those in a different thread: https://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8037084. Here are a few of the shots.

John Mac, mosey, Now I Fly
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Logbear
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Logbear
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PostTue May 09, 2023 1:33 pm 
If you want to get to Honey Lake or Mowitch Lake, once you're past Sunday lake, the old miners trail to Prufers Cabin is on the east side of the creek. Then the rule of thumb I used is...if you can hear the creek, you're too close. If you can't hear it, you're too far away. The trail to Prufers Cabin, and the cabin, are shown on the 7.5 minute topo map. The cabin is at 2,200 feet elevation. You can see it on google maps. Following the creek up to Mowitch isn't too bad when the water is low. It was really good fishing back in 80's. Pan size rainbows.

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” – Sir Ranulph Fiennes

ree, ALW Hiker, mosey, Bramble_Scramble
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Bramble_Scramble
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PostTue May 09, 2023 1:45 pm 
Thanks logbear. I was going to ask if the cabin still existed. There was a user here with a few threads about old cabins but their pictures are all gone.

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ALW Hiker
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ALW Hiker
lakebagger
PostThu May 11, 2023 8:27 pm 
Thanks logbear, those are great photos! Pretty cool that the cabin is visible on Google Maps, though I don't think one would figure that out unless they knew where to look. After we got home I saw the trail on the other side of the creek on the USFS map - not sure why I didn't notice that before we went. Beyond Sunday Lake, we didn't see an obvious crossing of the creek again, but the trail got fairly faint so I am sure we missed it. It was probably at or before the boulder field where we lost the trail in the rocks and snow, though we saw occasional signs of travel beyond that. Sounds like the way up to Honey and Mowitch wouldn't be bad in the fall when walking up the creek(s) is easy. I'm still considering getting there from the Rooster Mt. tarns up above, which would make for a nice camping spot before dropping down to the lakes in the morning. The plus of that approach - no driving the North Fork Road. smile.gif

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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostFri May 12, 2023 11:49 am 
This is a fun thread to read. I've never been up the Sunday Lake trail or to the cabin, but I've tried to figure out the other end of the trail that connected with the Middle Fork valley. I did a little more comparison of old maps and a historic sign near the tarns. BTW, per Brian Curtis, the Trailblazers called the southernmost pond Honey Pot #1 and the northernmost pond Honey Pot #2. The map is dated 1996 from the King County map vault but was used in that case to show where to add gravel on the Middle Fork road before the couplets. This base map is clearly much older than that, but there's no date. I drew in the roads used to log the lower slopes of Rooster. A couple notes that I learned from this
  • This isn't new info, but the "Quartz Creek trail" is in some USFS databases and follows the logging roads up to the current location of the sign. The upper part of that road is now impassable due to slide alder -- it's easier to go cross country.
  • This distances on the sign where it is now don't make sense. A straight-line distance to Mowitch Lake is almost a mile. But if it was at the top of the ridge where this map shows the old trail then it's a lot closer to 3/4 miles. Also, the "cut-off trail", whatever that means, might refer to the side trail shown going to the summit of Rooster. But the sign was at the current location in 1979 or 1984 based on a photo from George Lewis' Trailblazers biography. Possible dates of that photo are from Brian Curtis. Brian also said Bob Pfeifer estimated the sign was placed in the 1930s.
  • The old map follows the initial switchbacks of the logging roads on Rooster but then veers away. The map probably predates the higher set of roads. But that accuracy lower down lends credibility to the entire route IMO.
  • On the North Fork end, it's interesting that the road used to veer south of the bog.
From King County map vault, with my annotations
From King County map vault, with my annotations
2022 photo of sign currently near the Honey Pots
2022 photo of sign currently near the Honey Pots
George Lewis at sign in 1979 or 1984
George Lewis at sign in 1979 or 1984

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Riverside Laker
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PostFri May 12, 2023 9:51 pm 
We went today and also didn't see a trail crossing Sunday Creek. But we didn't even think about it until on the way back, so it might be interesting to check it out. Thanks for the heads up on this place, ALW.

ALW Hiker, ree
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Logbear
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PostSat May 13, 2023 1:17 am 
The trail used to go to the right of the big rock in the background. The trail there has become a rocky washed out streambed where it meets Sunday Creek. There are places where the trail is easy to see, and then there are really big fallen trees, and thick brush.

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” – Sir Ranulph Fiennes

ALW Hiker
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ree
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ree
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PostSat May 13, 2023 9:22 pm 
Thanks for this trip report. You gave some details we found very useful. We went up to Sunday on Friday, but I think it'd be good any day of the week. embarassedlaugh.gif The artifacts/relics were a great draw for us, and it was nice to go to a place where we didn't have to wade in snow.

ALW Hiker
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ALW Hiker
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ALW Hiker
lakebagger
PostSun May 14, 2023 6:28 pm 
puzzlr wrote:
The map is dated 1996 from the King County map vault but was used in that case to show where to add gravel on the Middle Fork road before the couplets. This base map is clearly much older than that, but there's no date. I drew in the roads used to log the lower slopes of Rooster. A couple notes that I learned from this
Thanks puzzlr! You are the master of online map research. I poked around in the King County Map Vault for a while and couldn't find that map, but the continual timeouts and errors didn't help. I'll have to play around with it a bit more. Others have commented on that ridge-top sign before. It's astounding how the sign in 2022 looks almost identical to the sign in the George Lewis photo. It's almost unbelievable that the sign could have been installed in the 1930s and still be in the shape it's in, but with no change in 40 years - maybe! In any case, they don't make signs like that anymore, at least in the ALW. I agree with you that the location for the sign is rather curious - puzzling, even! smile.gif If it was only 3/4 mile to Mowitch Lake, then it should have been on the east side of the tarns (Honey Pots) where you have it. Based on your map and others, and the first-hand accounts in this thread, the trail from Sunday Lake went past Mowitch Lake up to the Rooster Ridge, not past Honey Lake. So it makes sense that it would be Mowitch on the sign and not Honey Lake. So why the sign on the saddle just above Honey Lake? Certainly a mystery. The "End of trail - 2 miles" could indicate the trail along the ridge to the west that kidzwonthike found. Next time I am up there, after the snow is gone, I will try to find the sign, and look for any hints of an old trail north from there. Then I'll also see if there are any signs of a trail toward Mowitch from the knoll. I know people have used the latter route to get down to Mowitch Lake, as I found a peakbagger report of someone who took that route to get to Goat Mountain (a long day!!). Certainly it sounds like the ridge-top trail is in pretty good shape and extends all the way from Rooster to west of the Honey Lake saddle. But I wager most folks using that trail are peakbaggers and aren't looking to get down the backside.

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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostSat May 20, 2023 3:35 pm 
ALW Hiker, I tried to find a trail down from the sign but not for very long because I didn't see anything. If you look harder you might find something and I'd love to hear about it. Someone has been doing work in this area because these signs were about 100' away from the historic sign. We followed the "Ridge Trail" a little ways but it's very rough. The "Sunday Lake" trail didn't seem to be there. If the person doing this reads this thread, please PM me, I'll be discreet.
Ridge trail, Sunday Lake trail
Ridge trail, Sunday Lake trail
I agree that the map vault has a frustrating interface and a slow server or storage architecture behind it, and maybe because the files are rarely requested. I save info about where I got maps so this url might work for you. If not, I found it again by entering "Middle" in the "Road Name" field. Searching for map year 1996 didn't work.
Meta data for map (of the "complete set" only the one is of the Middle Fork)
Meta data for map (of the "complete set" only the one is of the Middle Fork)

Mid Fork Rocksflickr

mosey, Bramble_Scramble
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ALW Hiker
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Joined: 27 Jul 2021
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Location: Redmond, WA
ALW Hiker
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PostSun May 21, 2023 9:36 am 
Yep, that link works, thanks! I forgot about that newer sign. Perhaps more of a bushwhacker sign just pointing in the general direction? Or else they're working further down. Terrain-wise, it looks like it wouldn't be too hard to find a route down to Honey Lake from that pass, but it looks extremely brushy for the lower 2/3 of the descent. Going via Mowitch to Sunday makes more sense to me since there's more forest, although the route past Mowitch on that map goes through the brushiest parts there too (on the SE side). The route I found to Goat Mountain on Peakbagger took the less brushy approach around the NW side of the lake. However, the route they took down the ridge SW of Mowitch Lake is mega steep and appears to pass through a lot of cliffy spots, so it makes sense the trail wouldn't go that way.

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hunterofelke
Roland



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hunterofelke
Roland
PostMon May 22, 2023 9:52 am 
Maybe this summer I will cross the creek and go explore around the lake. I have gone as far as the creek, but it always was too high for my courage. Read a post from someone who came in from the Katrina area, down old logging roads. found the creek and followed it to the lake. Seems like a good route for a new trail, but since most would be on private land, probably never happen. My interest of Sunday Lake was piqued when a young man posted a trip report on WTA. He was very curious about the cabin since he found it on Google Earth. Wow, he was really shot down by the 'secret squirrel' society president so much so he tried his best to delete his report. You can see what's left in the Sunday Lake trip reports. Couple seasons ago the trail to the lake was cleared out, I guess it needs yearly maintenance. A trail up to the higher country would be nice, but the North Fork Snoqualmie seems to be written off as a bad deal, probably because of all the private timber land.

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ALW Hiker
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ALW Hiker
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PostMon May 22, 2023 1:48 pm 
hunterofelke wrote:
Read a post from someone who came in from the Katrina area, down old logging roads. found the creek and followed it to the lake. Seems like a good route for a new trail, but since most would be on private land, probably never happen.
Yes, there is an old route (still on the Gaia map) that connected the Loch Katrine road to the Sunday Lake Trail, but reportedly it is grown over. Even if you built a new trail there, which joined up with the Sunday Lake Trail near the ford, it would be longer than just hiking the current Sunday Lake Trail. So it probably doesn't make too much sense even without the private property issue. I suppose the benefit is you wouldn't have to worry about the creek ford, which is kind of a downer if it turns you around.
hunterofelke wrote:
Couple seasons ago the trail to the lake was cleared out, I guess it needs yearly maintenance. A trail up to the higher country would be nice, but the North Fork Snoqualmie seems to be written off as a bad deal, probably because of all the private timber land.
Most trails would benefit from yearly maintenance, but the more obscure ones like Sunday Lake are probably lucky to get it every 4-5 years. However, from what we saw, it's actually in pretty good shape with just a few new blowdowns and some short brushy sections. I suspect it benefits from some unofficial clearing efforts, but I also talked to a WTA crew leader who had done a work party there a few years back, so it's not completely forgotten. Speaking of the North Fork in general, it's easy to see how one might think it has been written off, but the FS had WTA out for at least one extended work party at Lennox Creek in the past couple of years, and there's a 4-day work party doing maintenance on the Bare Mountain Trail this July. Hopefully someone is keeping an eye on that Lennox Creek road spur though - when I was up there last year it seemed pretty close to washing out entirely.

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