These two trails are the highline trail of the Lakes Country, providing a high-elevation route between the head of Shingle Creek and the Crystal Lake Trailhead. Portions of this trail system have been built to a high standard, while other portions are obscure and difficult to follow. There are many alpine lakes along the route. (See: Smith-Morehouse Trail and Erickson Basin Trail for intersecting routes.)
25 miles east of Kamas on Hwy 150
12 miles oneway
June to October
USGS Quads: Mirror Lake and Erickson Basin
Difficulty varies by section:.1) Crystal Lake Trailhead to Long Lake: Good trail, rebuilt in 1979. First 1/4 mile follows an old logging road. .2)Long Lake to Island Lake: The trail crosses the Long Lake Dam, then climbs slickrock bluffs north of dam. Hikers sometimes lose their way here. Watch for rock cairns. The last 1/4 mile of trail leading up to Island Lake is very steep, washed out and drops two to three feet over sheer rock in several places. It is a tough section for both horses and hikers to negotiate. .3) Island Lake to junction with Smith-Morehouse Trail: Trail proceeds around the west end of Island Lake. At the northwest corner of Island Lake the trail begins climbing to the pass north of the lake. This is a very rough section of trail with precipitous drop-offs that are difficult for horses to negotiate. .4) Junction to Big Elk Lake: This is a high, scenic section of trail, mostly above timberline. Great panoramic views of the mountains to the south are offered from this route. However, there is little trail tread here, and the route must be negotiated by following rock cairns. This section is an easy hike for those experienced in navigating with a map. .5) Big Elk Lake to South Erickson Lake: The trail is obscure at best and mostly not existent in this section. .The country between Big Elk and the pass to the north is a series of broken cliffs which experienced hikers will have no trouble finding a way through. From the pass west to South Erickson Lake the trail crosses slickrock and there is a route marked with cairns, although this is open country and navigation is easy. The final 1/4 mile east of South Erickson Lake skirts an alpine meadow. It is not recommended that horses be taken between East Shingle Lake and Big Elk Lake. .6) South Erickson Lake to East Shingle Lake: The junction of the Lakes Country Trail, Erickson Basin Trail and Upper Setting Trail is about 1/4 mile north of South Erickson Lake. This is different than shown on USGS Erickson Basin Quad. See map corrections write-up (below) and ROG Atlas. The Upper Setting Trail proceeds west from this junction while the Erickson Basin Trail heads north. The Upper Setting Trail skirts, then crosses a large meadow, then heads into the woods, crosses the pass into the head of Shingle Creek and drops down to East Shingle Lake. In the vicinity of East Shingle Lake, the main trail is obscured by a number of "false" trails around the lake. This presents a particularly confusing situation to hikers trying to reach Erickson Basin from the west. .7) East Shingle Lake to Upper Setting Road: The trail skirts the south end of east Shingle Lake, then proceeds south and west to Upper Setting Road. This is a recently constructed, easy to follow trail...Map Corrections: (See ROG Trails Atlas) The junction of the Lakes Country Trail, Upper Setting Trail and Erickson Basin Trail is directly north of South Erickson Lake, not atop the pass between Erickson Basin and Shingle Creek as shown on the USGS map. The west half of the trail between Island Lake and Big Elk Lake is north (closer to the base of the mountains) of the route shown on the USGS map. The trail from the Upper Setting Road and East Shingle Lake is not shown on USGS maps...Crystal Lake Trailhead: Parking and a horse unloading ramp are provided, but no toilets or water are available...Upper Setting Trailhead: Upper Setting is a high-standard graded road, but is rough in a few spots making it recommended for high clearance vehicles only. Currently, there are no facilities at this trailhead except for parking.
Map + Directions
Beginning at the Crystal Lake Trailhead, the trail proceeds west and north to Island Lake, then crosses briefly into the head of Smith-Morehouse Creek before continuing on west to Big Elk Lake. From Big Elk Lake the trail crosses north and west into Erickson Basin, then south and west into the head of the Shingle Creek drainage where it meets the Upper Setting Road. To reach the Crystal Lake Trailhead, proceed to the lake turn-off, 25 miles east of Kamas on the Mirror Lake Highway. Proceed north and west toward Washington Lake, watching for signs pointing to the trailhead, which are about 1 mile from the highway. The Lakes Country Trail proceeds west from the parking area. .The Upper Setting Trailhead is located at the far east end of the Upper Setting Road. The Upper Setting Road is located 8.7 miles east of Kamas on The Mirror Lake Highway. The trailhead is about 7 miles from the highway. The trail begins by following a blocked, logging road for the first 100 yards before narrowing into a hiking trail. .
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