One of our hiking buddies had hiked to Lilypad Lake without us the previous week. Humph. Full of lilypad envy and determined not to be outdone, we set off for the lake one day in late June. Warned about the overgrown road, we took pruners and did quite a bit of lopping to make it to the trailhead without scratching the car. 

Lilypad Lake is a great dayhike destination. The first almost three miles is on Poison Canyon Trail which vaguely follows North Fork Swift Creek through untamed forest. The solitude is loud in Poison Canyon and you can feel the wildness in the air. We have only seen another person here during hunting season.

The trail offers great views all along the way of towering Ycatapom Peak. It passes through both forests and meadows and includes generous sprinklings of wildflowers. At almost three miles there is a signed fork near a magnificent, gnarled old cedar which we have named the Teapot Tree. When we see the teapot we know we have a mile to go. The last mile continues to follow the creek up to the lake outlet.

Even though the hike is short, it is moderately steep. Usually we are pretty tired when we get to the lake. But this time, almost there, we noticed that we were not particularly tired, thus prompting a round of self-congratulation about our awesomeness. So involved were we in this positive affirmation business, that we didn’t notice for awhile that we’d missed the faint turn-off to the lake. Embarrassing. We backtracked to the crossing of the lake outlet and found our trail.

We meandered up the lake outlet and before long we had arrived. The lake, shadowed by Thumb Rock, was abloom with cup-shaped yellow pond lilies.

Amy (perching on a log to get a close-up shot of the flowers): “Oooh look! Yellow. Look! YELLOOWWWW…”

Cathy (eye roll): “Oh geez, not the log thing again!”

Amy (scream, splash)

Lakes with lilypads are not good for swimming. That hip-deep silt the plants seem to flourish in smells like sewage.

We hiked back down to the trailhead, one of us reeking like an outhouse, and drove home with the windows down.

If you are going: A gate along the access road is locked during the off-season. Call the Forest Service at 623-2121 to check. Take Swift Creek Road out of Trinity Center. Follow the signs to Poison Canyon Trailhead. There are several forks in the road that are not signed. Take a map. The hike to the lake is about 7.5 miles round trip. Just before the lake turn right immediately after crossing the lake outlet. It doesn’t look like a trail initially but go a couple hundred feet and the route will become well defined again.

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