I’m a sucker for new trails (or just new-to-me), and last week I read a trip report about the new-ish Granite Creek road to trail conversion, so I had to go check it out. The DNR did a pretty nice job converting the old Granite Creek road to a shiny new trail. Of course it’s not the same as a trail through an old growth forest, but most of the Granite Creek trail has a nice grade and the lakes were worth the trip. Also, solitude. The solitude was amazing, especially considering this is hike is immediately adjacent to the very popular Mailbox Peak.
The Granite Creek trailhead is accessed from the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rd, approx 1/4 mile past the Mailbox Peak trailhead. It is the very first turnout on your right after passing the Mailbox Peak TH. Right now the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rd is closed immediately after the Mailbox Peak TH, but you can still easily access the Granite Creek trail on foot.
The trail was entirely snow-free and there were minimal blow-downs. Thompson Lake was partially frozen and there was a small snow patch on the western shore, but that was the only snow I saw all day. Granite Lakes were open, no ice or snow anywhere.
The first ~5 miles of trail (to the signed Granite Lakes/Thompson Lake junction) are relatively mellow. Once you take a left towards Thompson Lake, the grade gets a bit more serious. Eventually you will reach a sign that says “Thompson Lake trail 1009.1.” The trail steepens after this, but the steep sections are short and manageable.
Thompson Lake itself had some cool geometric shapes in the ice, and there is a nice spot for a tent right by the lake. However, it was raining hard and pretty chilly by that time, so I took a few quick pics and then turned to head back the way I came… What I really wanted to do was connect through to the Defiance trail and pop out at the Ira Spring trailhead. But I wasn’t sure how I’d get from the Ira Spring TH back to my car. Next time, I’m setting up a shuttle…
I climbed back out of the Thompson Lake basin and checked my watch. I needed to get in 16 miles and realized I was going to come up short if I went straight back to my car (my GPS showed ~7.25 miles to Thompson Lake). So I decided to check out Granite Lakes as well.
I’m glad I did – Granite Lakes were quite pretty. On a clear day, the view of Granite Mountain across the lake must be really nice! Be warned that there are a couple of fords on the way in to Granite Lakes. Nothing sketchy, but you definitely aren’t going to reach the lakes with dry feet, at least not in current conditions. By the time I was at Granite Lakes, the sun had started to come out, there was a slight breeze blowing up the valley, and the fog was rolling in and out of the lake basin. I could’ve stayed there for hours.
From the trailhead to Thompson and Granite Lakes, including some exploring around all of the lakes, was almost exactly 16 miles. Overall, another great run in the mountains!