After several months off from hiking, I have seriously been getting the itch to get out there. There is a lot of deep snow in the passes so those trails are out. So this morning my buddy and I headed up to Wallace Falls State Park. We had both been there before - I most recently had just been there last April. Neither of us had a real desire to see the falls again so we decided instead to head up to Wallace Lake.
We were the first to arrive and we hit the Woody Trail just before 8 AM with an OAT of 34 deg F. We headed up to the cut over to the Railroad Grade Trail which connects up to the Greg Ball Trail to Wallace Lake. It was 1.6 miles of pretty easy hiking to get to the start of the Greg Ball Trail. From there it was another 2.5 miles up to the lake. It started out cold and rainy but as we climbed up the hill it turned to wet snowy slush and then ultimately into just dry snow. It also got progressively deeper. First a dusting, then an inch here and there, then 4 inches along the short section of DNR road on the GBT, and then ultimately 6-8 inches at the bottom of the lake. The following pictures show the Greg Ball Trail just up to Wallace Lake.
At the bottom of the lake on the right is a bridge that connects hikers to a trail to the Upper Falls (it's 5.4 miles back to the car from this point via the Upper Falls). On the left is a trail that goes around the lake. After taking a few photos from the bridge we decided to hike to the left around the lake. It's approximately 0.6 miles around the lake but it was tough. In places the snow was 8 to 10 inches deep. We were both wearing good boots and gaiters so we had no problems with our feet staying warm and dry. However, hiking through this pristine snow causes one to use much more energy than on a normal trail. At the top of the lake we took more photos and had lunch at what is known as Pebble Beach. Any pebbles that might have been there were covered with deep snow.
After lunch my buddy noted the sign designating the trail up to Jay Lake. "It's only another mile," he said. "That's two more, round trip," I responded. With a little more encouragement I followed him up the trail to Jay Lake. In spots under the trees the snow was just a couple inches deep. In spots in the clear the snow was over a foot deep. It was a tough slog but we made it up the lake in not too much time. At one point the trail crosses a tributary connecting Jay and Wallace Lakes but it was a very easy crossing. Unlike Wallace Lake, camping and campfires are allowed at Jay Lake (with permit). There were three tent pads that we spotted as well as a privy, picnic table, and fire pit. There are a few pictures of the trail as well as a video of the lake below.
After checking out Jay Lake we headed back. We left at about noon and made it back to the car just after 2 PM. It was four hours up and two hours down with 4-5 miles in medium to deep snow (over 11 miles total). We didn't see another soul until the way down. Great day and great hike.