Camping Suggestion: Rainy Lake vs North Lake?

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
Post Reply
User avatar
OneSpeed
Posts: 917
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Camping Suggestion: Rainy Lake vs North Lake?

Post by OneSpeed » July 1st, 2020, 11:11 am

Just planning a little backpack in the area, wondering about conditions or suggestions for these two spots on a Tuesday night. Never been to either.

I can't tell if Rainy is even open -- FS website hasn't been updated since May and I get no answer at the Hood River RD.

If it's open, and if they are charging the $19 fee, is it worth stopping there? Is North Lake nicer? My intention would be to arrive mid-day (up from Cedar Swamp Camp), then dayhike Defiance in the afternoon.

Thanks!

User avatar
drm
Posts: 5292
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: The Dalles, OR
Contact:

Re: Camping Suggestion: Rainy Lake vs North Lake?

Post by drm » July 1st, 2020, 2:15 pm

As mentioned previously, North Lake is a backpacker destination with a number of camps essentially on the shoreline. Rainy Lake is a car campground about 1/4 mile from the water because the lake is mostly surrounded by marsh. You can hardly even find a spot to walk up to water's edge.

I haven't been there in years because I always get the exercise of hiking up the Wyeth Trail, which has remained closed since the Eagle Creek fire. The trail from North Lake to Green Point plateau area can sometimes be rough and brushy, but I do know somebody who hiked up from Rainy just a couple weeks ago - that route is an old road. There is also a short trail in to North Lake from the east but I have not come in from that way, though I think it is the more normal way.

leiavoia
Posts: 101
Joined: April 24th, 2015, 9:53 pm

Re: Camping Suggestion: Rainy Lake vs North Lake?

Post by leiavoia » July 1st, 2020, 3:11 pm

In terms of just lake esthetics, I think North is better, but as mentioned it is backpacker only.

Walkin' Fool
Posts: 37
Joined: July 7th, 2014, 10:03 am

Re: Camping Suggestion: Rainy Lake vs North Lake?

Post by Walkin' Fool » July 1st, 2020, 4:20 pm

Was in the area this past Saturday: The trail from Wahtum Lake, over Green Pt Mt and down to N Lake is in great shape, with the exception of one large blowdown not too far south of N Lake requiring a pack-off-belly-crawl-type move. We did not backtrack to take the connector trail to Rainy Lake, but instead took the 411 trail to the South Defiance TH, then walked the road to Rainy Lake. That, and Rainy back to Wahtum are in great shape. N Lake is definitely more scenic. There were several groups there, more then I've ever seen (including someone on the lake in a packraft) but saw hardly anybody on the trails themselves. N Lake's not huge, but there are several nice sites, and even if there were other people there, it'd probably not be too annoying unless they were loud. 3 USFS folks were at Rainy CG doing maintenance - I also am not sure if the CG is open, but I didn't find it very impressive and as others have said, it's not right on the lake. 2 groups showed up while we were at Rainy Lake, of the drive-up-and-look-at-the-lake type.

Post Reply