Shadow Lake Trail- Part 2 (Twin Lakes Campground to Shadow Lake Campground)
August 25, 2017
Twin Lakes Campground to Shadow Lake Campground
Distance: 6.8 km
Elevation Gain: 300 m
Elevation Loss: 400 m
Time: 3 hours
I woke up to the sound of nothing but birds chirping their good morning. That right there is one of the biggest reasons I love to sleep in the backcountry. When I got up, I made sure to take another shot of Upper Twin Lake as the water appeared almost as if it was made of glass.
Breakfast consisted of a cliff bar and then I packed up and headed off on the next portion of my adventure. The trail continues through the campsite and out the other side.
Heading towards Lower Twin Lake meant no elevation gain as I moved downwards through more forest, arriving in a short 0.8 km. The lake itself isn’t directly on the path as you first have to cross the stream outpouring on a wooden plank and then turn right straight afterwards. As I walked along the mini bridge, I marveled at the view from both my left and my right.
The second of the Twin Lakes is definitely the prettiest as Storm Mountain serves as a gorgeous backdrop to an emerald foreground.
A narrow waterfall sits off in the distance, almost invisible to the untrained eye.
I took in the scenery for quite some time, enjoying the fact that I didn’t have far to go before I reached the second campground.
Once I had finished with the lake, I turned back into the forest and was greeted with the first elevation gain of the day.
The trail continues to lift gradually as you make your way up Gibbon Pass, the valley to your right.
The trail was narrow but well defined as it moved through a mix of pine and greenish yellow larches. In a few weeks, the larches would be completely yellow and I was a little sad that I would be missing one of mother nature’s more impressive displays.
After hiking about 2 km, the pine trees began to dissipate and were soon replaced with more larches and a meadow of bear grass.
The world around me had already begin to take on a brown-orangy fall tint to it while Storm Mountain continued to follow me wherever I went.
Sooner than I expected, I reached the official cairn for Gibbon Pass. The pass around me seemed to stretch on for days. Where it’s lacking in views, it more than makes up for in a gorgeous panorama of alpine meadow.
Once I had my fill of the pass, I began to head downwards to Shadow Lake. The larches guided me down through a clear cut narrow trail.
Losing a large amount of elevation in 3 km is not easy on the knees and I worked my way down slowly.
The trail widens and mixes back and forth between smooth and a rocky surface, while the last of the wildflowers of the season waved goodbye.
Within no time, I got my first glimpse of a cabin that belongs to Shadow Lake lodges.
From here, there is a sign that indicates that if you turn west you’ll reach Shadow Lake and then Whistling Pass and if you go east you can continue towards Shadow Lake Lodge and the campground, which sits really close behind the lodge.
There are a few log crossings that you have to walk across before you reach the official sign for the lodge.
I took a brief pit stop at the lodge and marveled at the pristine condition all of the cabins were in. The view from the lodge itself was beautiful and for a moment, I felt a little jealous that I wouldn’t be staying there.
When I moved back on the trail, I continued across a bridge and quickly found myself on a boardwalk that floated above the vexation. There is a quick turn off to the left that takes you up to a place where you can tie up your horses.
I continued along the boardwalk until there was another turn-off, this time to the right. This would be my final destination of the night as I had finally reached Shadow Lake Campground.
The campground itself is nothing special as it only consists of five tent pads and an outhouse.
The source of water is not easy to access as it sits in a creek that is mostly surrounded by marsh land. I once again found myself alone in the campground though this time it felt less surreal, as not only 200 m away from me were the lodge guests.
I set up my tent, had a quick bite to eat and then decided to hike back towards Shadow Lake.
To get to the lake, I walked back past the lodge until I reached the intersection and then continued going straight through.
Near the intersection, a garden of boulders sat next to the pathway, making for a very uneven trail. I wondered to myself how long the giant stones had been there and how they had come to be. There were no cliffs nearby so a rock slide wasn't a valid explanation. A yeti in the middle of building a rock house, perhaps?
As I moved past the boulders, the next section on the way to the lake consisted of more balance beams to help keep the trail from behind destroyed. I could see from the washed out area that running water was a huge part of the wear and tear.
The hike to the lake itself is devoid of any views as you are moving through thick forest along a narrow dirt path for 1 km.
However, there are a few creek crossings to keep things interesting!
After the short journey, I finally reached a fork in the road. Going left took me down to the lake while moving to my right took me counter clockwise around the lake.
Since my intended destination was Shadow Lake, I swung left and immediately saw the torquise of the lake off in the distance.
There was a long bridge that carries a person across the east side of the lake. At the very end of the lake there was a sign indicating that the rest of the trail was closed off due to fires. This is where I would have continued on had my original plans not been changed. So instead, I laid down on the bridge and enjoyed my current situation.
Despite the fact that it was close to the end of the season, there were still plenty of wildflowers surrounding the pristine lake.
As I considered leaving the lake, one of the hiker’s passing by me told me about a fairly decent sized waterfall that sat along the shoreline trail. Since I had arrived early to Shadow Lake and still had plenty of day time, I decided to take a gander. So I walked myself back to the fork in the road and turned right this time. The trail moves alongside the lake for 2 km.
Much like the walk on my way to the lake, there were a few creek crossings to contend with. Though instead of a bridge to cross, my option was wading in the water or balancing along a rotting fallen tree. I took my chance with the tree.
I knew I was getting close to the end of the lake once the trail flattened out and the trees began to "shrink".
Once I reached the main creek that ran-off into the lake, I turned northwards.
Finding the waterfall is easy enough as you only need to follow the creek, making sure it stays on your left the entire time.
The trail stays flat the entire time and when it roams away from the creek, you can still hear the running water close by, providing comfort that you are still going the right way.
I was very glad I decided to adventure to the waterfall as it provides a beautiful view and is incredibly impressive in its obvious power.
I took a few photos of the moment, sat and enjoyed the sound of raging water and then headed back the way I came.
On my way back, I was treated with an even more gorgeous and unique view of Shadow Lake. With the sun shining down, I had never seen such a large body of water look so much like a sapphire.
After taking about a million more pictures of the gorgeous scenery, I finally packed it in and headed back to my campsite for dinner. By the time I retired to my tent for the night, it was still just me at the campground. It was a strange feeling but kind of nice knowing I had the place to myself. After all, peace and quiet is exactly why I do this!
Click here to check out Day 1 of my adventure, which covers Arnica Lake trailhead to Twin Lakes campground! And click here for Day 3, which covers Shadow Lake campground to the Red Earth creek trailhead!