Video by Strahm family. Words by Todd Strahm.
The Tillys (Bart, Patrick and Conner) and the Strahms (Todd and Jake) camped at North Fork Saturday night (September 8, 2012). The lightning and thunder was intense with multiple flashes of light followed by loud booms that echoed throughout the Entiat Valley. Pounding rain would hit for a few minutes, stop, and then start-up again. Fellow campers would scream while some hooted at the awesome show. One party packed up sometime around midnight. All I could think about was the 1976 Big Thompson flash flood in Colorado whose aftermath I had seen as a young boy. It really scared me and I remember vividly the pictures of the devastation. Of course the rain this particular night in the Entiat Valley never hit epic proportions but I was prepared to find high ground if it did.
The next morning was beautiful. One smoldering fire just across the Entiat River appeared like it would die out soon. Because we did not have cell service we had no idea that fires had sprung up everywhere, so we continued with the agenda to ride the North Fork Entiat River Trail #1437. This trail makes great single track for mountain biking. There’s just enough elevation change and technical ground to make it challenging. After about 6 miles of riding, we reached the junction with the Fern Lake Trail #1436 and dismounted the bikes. We scrambled on foot up the steep trail to Fern Lake. That was when we noticed that the Pyramid fire had potential to grow.
It was hard to leave the lake because the fishing was so good but the parents along on this trip were worried that if the Pyramid fire moved down into the valley, our route would have been cut off so we high-tailed-it out of there.
The combination of biking and hiking is a great way to make the trip to Fern Lake a reasonable day trip. Be forewarned, however, that you need intermediate mountain-biking skills for the riding along the North Fork of the Entiat River.
This was a great trip that provided good memories in spite of the sorrow we currently feel about all the damage wrought from the fires that started that night.
Details, Details: Hiking / Mountain Biking to Fern LakeActivities. Hiking, mountain biking, and trail running.
Distance. Round trip distance of 14.5 miles. About 12 of those miles can be ridden on a mountain bike by intermediate riders.
Elevation Gain. About 3,000 vertical feel gain
Fitness Level. For hikers: 3- (high intermediate or low advanced). For mountain bikers: 2+ (high intermediate).
Access. Drive 97A just north of the bridge crossing the Entiat River. Turn (west) and drive up the Entiat River Road 33 miles (roughly 3 miles past Silver Falls). Turn right on Forest Road 5606 and follow it about 3 miles to the North Fork of the Entiat Trailhead. As of September 2012, the road to the trailhead was in good shape. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park here.
Map. See our topo map of the route.
- Follow the North Fork Entiat River Trail (#1437) for 6 miles and past a few trail junctions. This portion of the trail makes great single track for mountain biking. There’s just enough elevation change and technical ground to make it challenging.
- At the junction with the Fern Lake Trail (#1436), turn left and climb more steeply along this new trail for 1.2 miles to reach the lake. Most mountain bikers will want to hike this section of the trail.
- Return by retracing the route.
Permits. To park at the trailhead requires a Northwest Forest Pass.
Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, etc.
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.