Update (September 2017): The Entiat River Road and access to Myrtle Lake reopened this past spring after nearly a two-year closure caused by the Wolverine Fire during the summer of 2015). See the condition update below for more details.
A long trip up the Entiat River Valley that is worth the drive and the walk, especially in fall, to see the autumn colors. Myrtle Lake is also an approach to beautiful alpine terrain beyond in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
Maps: View our topo map. Note: use ‘Print Preview’ before printing to properly scale this map to a full sheet of paper.
Nearest Town: Entiat
Skill Level: 2
Fitness Level: 2 — fitness level 3 if you do the loop to Larch Lake
Distance: About 10 miles round trip
Elevation: 600 feet
From Highway 97A at the town of Entiat, drive up the Entiat River Road about 38 miles. The trail starts at the end of the road a short ways beyond the turnoff to the Cottonwood Campground. The upper portion of the road was closed for nearly two years following the Wolverine Fire of 2015 but reopened in May of 2017. With all the burnt trees that now flank the upper portion of the road, it is quite possible for wind to bring new snags down across the road at most any time. Carrying a saw in the car capable of cutting a 12-inch log isn’t a bad idea.
From the trailhead, walk up the Entiat River along Trail 1400 about 4 miles; then turn left and cross the Entiat River on the Cow Creek Meadows Trail No. 1404 (see update below for information about the bridge crossing). Once across the river, walk about 0.4 miles to the north end of Myrtle Lake or, shortly before the lake, turn left and follow a spur trail another half mile to the south end of the lake.
Other Trip Options:
Hikers who are quite fit and want to reach the high the alpine country, the golden larches, and summit a scramblers peaks can do a very enjoyable one-day blitz or an overnight backpacking trip up to Cow Creek Meadows. From here hike and scramble up the south side of Fifth of July Mountain (7,696 feet). Another option beyond Cow Creek Meadows is to do a loop over to Larch Lakes (5,730 feet), drop back down to the Entiat River and follow the river trail (Trail 1400) back to the car. Most of the country above Myrtle Lake is in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
Fees/Permits: You’ll need either a Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annual pass; $5 day pass), Golden Age, Golden Access, or Golden Eagle Pass to park at the trailhead.
Uses Allowed: Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking.
Uses Not Allowed: No motorized use of these trails is allowed, and no mountain bikes are permitted past the Glacier Peaks Wilderness boundary.
Additional Information: To read the trip report published in the Wenatchee World (Sept 2005), click here.
Additional Info from the Forest Service:
“Traveling up the Entiat Valley to access the trailhead, visitors should enjoy the gradual transition from areas of human development on private lands in the lower valley to forested areas of mixed conifers, as well as views of majestic rock outcroppings and the rushing waters of the Entiat River. Pay special attention to areas that continue to recover from devastating past wildfires. The Myrtle Lake area is a popular day-use area, due to its easy accessibility. On this trek, you’ll cross lovely streams and see a waterfall. A loop trip is made possible by hiking on Trail No. 1400 for five miles to Larch Lakes Trail No. 1430. Camping is available at primitive facilities at Myrtle Lake, or you can go higher to Larch Lakes for an overnight rest. This information from: Entiat Ranger District, 2108 Entiat Way, Entiat, 784-1511.”
Condition Update – September 25, 2017: Almost the entire hike was burned during the Wolverine Fire of 2015. This is now a scorched landscape studded by the whiskers of burn trees. If you want to get up-close-and-personal to see how wildfires can turn formerly lovely places into Mordor, hike this route. We actually highly recommend hiking or biking the trail because: 1) it graphically demonstrates how forests that are fuels heavy (because fire was suppressed for nearly century) burn much too hot for their own good 2) it will help you imagine how many other places throughout the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest will burn to a crisp unless the Forest Service is empowered to treat these lands at the right time of year (spring and fall) with a drastic increase in the amount of prescribed burning conducted. The destruction of many other cherished places is imminent if wildfires burn our fuels-heavy forest at the wrong time of year (i.e., the hottest months of summer).
Be aware that the bridge across the Entiat River about 4 miles up the trail was a victim of the Wolverine Fire in 2015 and the deck of the bridge burned. The steel railing and I-beams of the bridge are still in place and you can crab-walk across the I beams but there is some risk and not everyone will be willing to make this crossing.
Dirt bikers, are the heaviest users of trails throughout the Entiat River drainage and they have done much of the work in keeping the trails open throughout the watershed by cutting thousands of logs that fell in the aftermath of several recent fires. Without dirt bikers working on these trails, most would be a nightmare to hike, so be appreciative if you encounter a few dirt bikers along the way. Unfortunately the deadfall of burnt trees will be a monthly and a seasonal problem for decades to come — every windstorm and winter snowstorm is going to bring down new snags across the trail. Consider carrying a pruning saw with about a 10-inch blade so you can help with the small-diameter obstructions you encounter.
Leave It Better Than You Found It. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or may not know all the issues affecting a route. You are still completely responsible for your decisions, your actions, and your safety. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.