Esmeralda Basin: Wildflowers Blooming

Esmeralda Basin
Stats: 7.0 mi RT, 1750 ft gain
Conditions: Almost no snow, no bugs, uncrowded, wildflowers in progress
Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

Last year while on our way back from Tuck & Robin Lakes, we stopped for a late lunch in Roslyn and were instantly enticed by the local restaurants, small shops and vibrant Sunday market. Between the majesty of the Teanaways, and the charm of Roslyn, we knew we had to spend more time exploring the depths of I-90 this summer. I love a good farmers’ market so we opted to start our Sunday in Roslyn where we enjoyed live music on the lawn with quesadillas, a bag of cherries and freshly baked goods.

We then hit the road again and arrived at the Esmerelda Basin Trailhead around 2 PM. The last 7 miles of forest road are a bit rough but totally doable in an SUV and probably in a sedan. The parking lot had plenty of spots, despite the popularity of the Lake Ingalls hike starting at the same trailhead. Our theory is that we arrived just late enough that the early birds had left. The trailhead has an outhouse and a peaceful waterfall/stream to the side, perfect for a pre-hike snack.

This hike boasts mountain views throughout and wild flowers galore. We explored just as the wildflowers were starting to bloom – I expect that they’ll be much more spectacular in the coming weeks. The grade of this trail is fairly gentle and comfortable though there are a few minor stream crossings involved.

The hike to the Fortune Creek Pass viewpoint is mostly straightforward. About a quarter of a mile in, you’ll see another trail crossing the Esmeralda Basin Trail perpendicularly – continue straight on the main trail. After that crossing, continue straight until you reach the overlook. The trouble for us came when we tried to do the extra 2 miles to the viewpoint of Lake Ann. About 3 miles in is the turnoff for the Lake Anne Viewpoint – we turned right at the junction and ascended about 500 feet. Then, we hit a flat that still had some snow and the trail became ambiguous. We ran into another couple that had the same issue and eventually we all turned around. If you’re considering doing this hike, maybe wait a few more weeks for the last bit of snow to melt on this hike – the photos of the views of Lake Ann look worthwhile.

After the hike, we went back to Roslyn and enjoyed delicious and unique Mexican food at Roslyn Mexican Grill – highly recommended for satisfying the post-hike hunger with a burrito!

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