While studying the USFS map prior to a previous hike to Blossom Lakes and Pear Lake in the Evans Gulch Roadless Area, I also studied the area around Evans Lake which sits just below the high ridge separating Idaho and Montana a few miles east of Pear Lake and made a mental note that I would like to go there some time. Not long after, a hiking friend mentioned it as a possible trip and I jumped at it.
August 15, 2012 USFS Trail 696. Elevation at trail head ~ 3500 ft. Elevation at Evans Lake 5500 ft.
For the most part the day was dark and the forest was dark and therefore I didn’t take pictures along the trail even though it is a beautiful trail with some very nice switchbacks just before the lake. I had been cleared recently, but I think by an outfitter because he cut his initials on some of the larger cuts with his chain saw.
Like so many of the mountain lakes in this area the first views of them from the trail are from above.
Beautiful! I’ve always been tempted when driving toward Thompson Falls from Thompson Pass to check out the trails I see signs for. This gives me more inspiration. I’m assuming it’s not nearly as heavily traveled as Blossom Lakes?
Thankfully we still have a lot of trails like that in this region, partly because they are so rugged they are just not suitable for ATV’s. I would not ever use a trail that was open to OHV use; there would be no point.
Many of these cirque-area lakes sit right up against the cirque wall. It makes them look quite dramatic, and when that wall is to the south of the lake, it gets hardly any sun. It also collects a very deep bank of snow by the end of winter.
What causes the patches of less-heavily forested mountainside? Is it disease? Simple erosion of the land? Especially rocky areas that don’t allow the trees to take hold? I do love that first photo of the lake, from above. Sometimes a glimpse is as good as a panorama!
The bare places contain very shallow soil on the rocks or none at all. There is often enough soil for grass and flowers but not enough to support a tree. It’s often amazing to see all of the places where trees actually can grow. I like those glimpses as you close in on the lake. They are teasers until you can finally break through the trees and get a clear view. Sometimes on these trails all you ever get to see of the surrounding area are little glimpses like that.
This lake reminds me of Profile Pond in the Whites – except Profile Pond abuts I-93. However, as in your photos, the mountain does go right into the pond (literally sometimes – that’s where New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain now rests).
Sometimes you can do that, but a lot of this country is not all that friendly due to cliffs, rock slides and downed timber. I am usually content to stay on the USFS trails except to get to the top of a peak. (The pack trails here, unless they were created specifically to a summit, will cross below a peak on their way to other parts.)
Interesting that you mentioned that! My next outing will likely be looking for a trail that has been decommissioned for a lot of years. I have it on a USFS map from 1956 but it hasn’t appeared on any since at least the 70’s. How hard can it be! I hope the wildlife have kept it visible!
“How hard can it be?” Very, in my experience, especially if there are alders involved! They used to call decommissioned trails “manways” and there are some in the Chicago Peak area. We also hiked one former trail that dead-ended at a landslide from the Quake Lake earthquake near Hebgen Lake.
This one turned out remarkably well. The animals had kept the tread fairly clear of vegetation, except that some apes from the local Ranger Station burned a few thousand trees in one of their “controlled” burns.
That was a cool but not really cold day but the water of course was ice cold. Hiking through the roadless areas is always an amazing experience. I have made dozens of hikes into them and each is a new intrigue.
I wanted to plan an overnite trip to Evans lake but I need some info as to the trailhead conditions. How far is the trailhead off of the main road? Do I need a high clearance vehicle to reach it? Thanks
Hi David. I haven’t been to Evans Lake since this trip in 2012 so I don’t know the current conditions. As I recall, the trail head is about a mile from the highway and I don’t remember the road to the trail head being bad, but I drive a Jeep. Your best bet would be to call the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger Station and ask for trail information and road condition. It would be good to check on whether the trail has been cleared yet this summer anyway and they would be the only ones who would know. The phone number there is 406-826-3821.
Thanks for your response, I will call and see if the ranger have any more info. I have shied away from calling ranger stations because it seem when I do Im told basically the same thing. “we have had such severe budget cuts that we don’t have the staff or the time to check road and trail conditions”.
My wife and I hiked into the lake yesterday. Five hours up and back, including lunch at the lake. Many trees down across the trail, with quite a bit of bushwacking involved to get around all of the obstructions. Lots of sign of bear and cougar, but we did not actually see any animals. This trail and lake are not as scenic as many others in the area, but the wildness and solitude made the hike worthwhile. Thank you for such a great blog. We use it extensively to plan our hikes. We are a bit west of you in Wallace, Idaho.