Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Back Door to Lake Lillian, Rampart Lake #1

Years ago, while studying the amazing "Friends of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness" map, I spied a pair of lakes, Laura and Lillian, that looked very easy to get to, provided that one take the "back door," an ill-maintained, dangerous dirt road going within a mile of the lower lake.  

Steep "Cheaters Trail"

The lakes appear to be easy to get to, but the trail to them is quite steep.  A fit person can ascend to the larger, more interesting, Lake Lillian, in about an hour.  Lillian is larger than it first looks.  A trail rings the lake and would provide a great place for some family time.  There's a small, beautiful campsite on the far shore.

Yours Truly at Lake Lillian - still snow here!
Today, small fish were sipping flies from the surface.  I inflated my Trail Boat and hunted the trout but they were too smart for me.  A young man stopped by and said that the Rampart Lakes, just a mile or so away always fished better than Lillian.   Being still early in the day, I packed up, hiked to the top of the ridge, and then down to a beautiful little spot that overlooked both the popular Rachel Lake and the Rampart Lakes.  Here's a panorama.

Ramparts on the left, Rachel on the Right
A trail descends to the lake through giant granite "Ramparts".  The first lake (of many) is the largest (though smaller than Lillian and Rachel).

Rampart #1
If you've seen pictures of the Ramparts you know they are elegant with rocky shores that are uncommon to this area.  The lakes are very popular, today there were perhaps two dozen visitors while I puttered around in my boat.  Many of them came from nearby Rachel Lake.

On this day, Rampart #1 was filled with hungry Westslope Cutthroat trout.  They were not picky about fly or presentation, and I hooked and lost many.   Four of them came to the net, the largest was 11", though I lost a few that felt heavier.

Pano of ridge view East
After a few hours it was time to head back.  The hike back up to the ridge and then across and down was punishing to the knees!   Two hours later, I found myself at the truck on shaky legs, tired, but happy to have finally caught some fish after the last trip's skunking.  Lillian was on "my list" and I can cross it off now.  The Ramparts were a lucky chance; one I was fortunate enough to experience on this beautiful day.


  1. Another spectacular looking trip!

  2. Beautiful scenery! Good work on hooking the trout!

  3. Great report! That trout looks nice!

  4. Clarification: Lake Lillian is reachable in one hour THE BACK WAY. If you take the normal trailhead (via Lake Margaret) its 4.5 miles each way.