Sugar Lake (Russian Wilderness) 01-Oct-2019

A cold storm rolled through our area last weekend. It brought with it the first, fleeting snows of the coming winter. Elevations above 6,000 feet were nicely dusted with powdery white stuff. The storm passed. It left behind the cool, cloud-flecked, sunny weather that warms the soles of Fall hikers in our area. We decided to celebrate with a short (6.2 mile round-trip; 1,200 feet of gain) hike to Sugar Lake in Northern California’s Russian Wilderness. This beautiful little lake is nestled just below Eaton Peak over the ridge from Big Duck Lake. After Taylor Lake, Sugar is probably the easiest lake to reach in this wilderness. What makes the stroll to the lake special is your passage through the “Miracle Mile” of very high conifer diversity – some 18 species having been identified in the Sugar Creek drainage. We weren’t up to identifying them all but it was good to know they are here and that special places like this still exist. 🙂

Driving directions to the trailhead abound but the trailhead itself is marked with only one small sign. Once we found the trail it was clear and easy to follow all the way to the lake. About 1.3 miles in we passed a three-rock cairn beside the trail that marks the junction with the now long-abandoned trail to South Sugar Lake. This trail last appeared on maps in 1986 and going to South Sugar now is mostly a cross-country adventure. Mushrooms have taken over for wildflowers and we spent time on the forest floor marveling at the variety of fungal colors and shapes. After reaching the lake and gazing at it admiringly, we snacked, then ambled back. This excellent day in the woods was accentuated with a simple dinner at Caldera on the way home. 😀

Starting up the Sugar Lake Trail #5584
Entering the wilderness
Fall leaves
An easy trail through a variety of conifers
Some really big fallen trees had been cut to keep the trail clear
Sugar Creek
One of the many kinds of fungus along the trail
First snow of the season!
Sugar Lake with a dusting of snow on the Salmon Mountains
Sugar Lake
Sugar Lake
Sugar Lake with clouds
The granite outcrops of Eaton Peak loom above the lake
Ponderosa abstract
Strolling back through the conifers
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