(Upper not lower!)
Those of you within my hiking circles know that I don't think too highly of Lena Lake and just can't figure why it is so darn popular-other than the fact that it is easy to drive to and easy to hike to-but then again so is Talapus Lake and you won't catch me hiking there either. I definitely go the extra mile both driving and hiking most of the times so that I can have a decent backcountry experience. Now, don't get me wrong-I never mind sharing my favorite backcountry haunts with fellow hikers-it is not the numbers of hikers out there that usually concerns me-it is the types of people that are out there.
Places like Talapus, Merritt, Barclay, and Lena attract too many yahoos and less-than-enlightened "hikers" who often bring with them trash, noise and unruly dogs-and often leave a degraded environment on their way out. So if you want to see what serious erosion looks like from cutting switchbacks-and how many beer cans, candy wrappers, and cigarette butts as well as piles of doggie-doo you can find on a hike-consider a hike to Lena Lake. But if you want to experience a beautiful well-visited lake without the yahoos-head to Upper Lena Lake. This place is gorgeous-especially right now during our Indian Summer. The hike will cost you-it is no easy stroll like the one to Lena. The trail to Upper Lena is 7.8 miles long (don't believe old descriptions that have it less) and will require nearly 4,000 vertical feet of climbing. Plus-much of the climb is straight out of the Appalachians-that is, it is rocky, rooty and straight up! It's not an easy hike-but oh so well worth it. And once you get there-plan on spending some time for there are lots of explorations you can do-like the easy hike to Milk Lake-or a more involved cross-country route to Scout Lake-or a fun scramble to Mount Lena. You want more info on this place? It's a featured hike in my upcoming Backpacking Book. Enjoy the rest of Indian Summer, the winter rains are coming soon enough.