Mount Margaret Loop

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
keithcomess
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Joined: April 24th, 2019, 8:04 pm

Mount Margaret Loop

Post by keithcomess » April 24th, 2019, 8:18 pm

Greetings!

I've seen grossly inconsistent reports on the Mount Margaret Loop Trail. Some indicate the trails are clear and obvious; others indicate the route after Obscurity Lake is hard to locate, overgrown and treacherous as recently as last year. Any clarification will be most welcome!

The route I'm hoping to follow in early August will start at the Coldwater Lake Boat Launch, and follow the Lakes Trail (#211) past Snow, Shovel, Panhandle and Obscurity Lake. I was next planning to follow the Boundary Trail past Margaret and Dome Camps and Mount Margaret to the Coldwater Trail (230) junction and then I will continue past Ridge Camp to the Coldwater Trail before turning right at the South Coldwater Trail (230A) junction connecting back to the Lakes Trail...and that's the loop!

I will greatly appreciate any information on the following:
1) Is the trail overgrown and difficult to follow between Obscurity Lake and Bear Pass? Some reports say yes and others no
2) Is there reliable water in August at Dome and Ridge Camps?
3) Based on this year's snowfall, is there likely to be snow covered sections on the trial in early August?

Thanks in advance for any information. It will be much appreciated!
--Keith

johnspeth
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Joined: July 30th, 2013, 8:33 am

Re: Mount Margaret Loop

Post by johnspeth » April 25th, 2019, 5:06 am

My caveat: I have not been in the area for a couple of years but I'm very familiar with most of MSH.
keithcomess wrote:
April 24th, 2019, 8:18 pm
1) Is the trail overgrown and difficult to follow between Obscurity Lake and Bear Pass? Some reports say yes and others no
Seasonal timing can make a big difference in judging overgrown. It was far from overgrown when I was there a couple of years ago.
keithcomess wrote:
April 24th, 2019, 8:18 pm
2) Is there reliable water in August at Dome and Ridge Camps?
August is not a reliable water month. It's almost always a function of how much snow is above. It's difficult to predict in April. I remember that Ridge camp is dry, flat, and too low in elevation to support snow in August. I don't know about Dome camp. The map says there is a spring nearby but seasonal productivity info is missing.
keithcomess wrote:
April 24th, 2019, 8:18 pm
3) Based on this year's snowfall, is there likely to be snow covered sections on the trial in early August?
I would guess that snow covered in north facing places is possible but snow blocked is unlikely.
Last edited by johnspeth on April 25th, 2019, 6:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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retired jerry
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Re: Mount Margaret Loop

Post by retired jerry » April 25th, 2019, 5:28 am

Quite a few years ago - Ridge and Dome camp - walk down the other side (north) and eventually there'll be a stream - maybe 1/4 mile

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jime
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Joined: June 9th, 2013, 1:35 pm

Re: Mount Margaret Loop

Post by jime » April 25th, 2019, 9:39 am

For reference, last year on June 22, 2018, I camped at Ridge Camp and it was dry then. Water options were the snow fields at the Coldwater Peak trail junction or the below at the Lakes Trail creek crossing. Travel over snow fields from Coldwater Peak to Mount Margaret was fine until past Mount Margaret where we turned around once it got deeper.

I have not done the Lakes Trail, but understand that the vegetation grows fast there. WTA reports might have some info on how brushy it gets.

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drm
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Re: Mount Margaret Loop

Post by drm » April 25th, 2019, 12:51 pm

Since your questions are all seasonally dependent, your best bet is to wait until we start getting trip reports. I did the loop, but too many years ago for that experience to be useful now. I'm thinking of doing it again this year and would report on it here if I do.

johnspeth
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Joined: July 30th, 2013, 8:33 am

Re: Mount Margaret Loop

Post by johnspeth » April 25th, 2019, 1:48 pm

(I just discovered that Obscurity Lake is actually the western twin of Twin Lakes. It doesn't show up on many maps as Obscurity.)

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Don Nelsen
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Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: Mount Margaret Loop

Post by Don Nelsen » April 25th, 2019, 7:13 pm

Last year, all snow in the area was gone by the end of July. Most was gone by the middle of July with only a few scattered patches remaining. The trail between the twin lakes and Bear Pass was in good shape when I hiked it on Aug. 17th. Here are a few photos of that trip: double click the first one and you can scroll through them and see the captions.
"Everything works in the planning stage".

keithcomess
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Joined: April 24th, 2019, 8:04 pm

Re: Mount Margaret Loop

Post by keithcomess » April 26th, 2019, 8:15 am

Thanks to all for the replies on the Mt Margaret Trail. Here is an update I just received from a Mt St Helens ranger (who qualified her comments by saying, "I haven't been here that many years but...).

Her report:
1) The Coldwater trail section for the last ~3.5 miles to Snow Lake is "difficult" to to new slides and old ones.
2) The trail from Obscurity Lake to Grizzly Lake has been cleared of brush and is "open", so there's now no bushwacking.
3) Last "reliable water source" between Grizzly Lake and the junction of Coldwater 230A to the Lake Trail is Grizzly Lake.
4) Additionally, the ranger reports that the springs shown on Green Trails Map 332S are "seasonal" and they might not be running by early August. Similarly, most snow is gone by that time.

So, if the ranger is reporting accurately, the trail might be dry for the ~11 miles between Grizzly Lake and the junction of 230A with the Lake Trail. Since I was hoping to camp at Dome and Ridge Camps and hike out the following day, that doesn't seem too promising in August, given the heat and sun exposure.

Recognizing that things change yearly, does her report seem consistent with others' experiences on the Boundary Trail and Coldwater 230A?

Many thanks in advance for your comments!
Keith

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jime
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Re: Mount Margaret Loop

Post by jime » April 26th, 2019, 3:20 pm

Another resource here; they discuss water. Seems like I do remember seeing some water near Mt Margaret Oct last year.

https://www.cleverhiker.com/blog/mount- ... -st-helens

keithcomess
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Joined: April 24th, 2019, 8:04 pm

Re: Mount Margaret Loop

Post by keithcomess » April 26th, 2019, 4:27 pm

Jime,

I read Dave Collins' report (he's "The Clever Hiker") and his posting seems ambiguous. If you click on the html links for the campsites, they show line drawings of the outhouses, tent locations and...springs!

The major reason I'm concerned about this situation is that I'm endeavoring to convince my brother (who lives in Chicago) to join us again this year on a backpack and I'm trying to smooth out potential difficulties before he decides.

I'll check again a few times as the mid-summertime approaches. Maybe the snowpack this year will be sufficient to maintain the water supply. In any event, campsite access is restricted and "reservation only" (as you likely know) and we got the last ones available for that time.

Thanks again,
Keith

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