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Nellie Lake

Kaiser Wilderness

June 26th, 2013

9.0 miles
1940 vertical feet
Total Time: 6:15

Starting elevation
7250 feet
Max elevation
9020 feet

Rating: 7/10

Directions: From Huntington Lake, take Highway 168 to Upper Billy Creek campground, at the far (western) end of the lake. Turn right into the campground, then immediately right at the sign for "Nellie Lake". It's a half mile dirt road (which should be fine for most cars) up to the trailhead parking.   View Driving Map



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GPX File

There were already two cars at the trailhead, and about 10 hikers getting ready to hit the trail. They started the trail a bit before we did. We started the trail (signed as the Billy Creek Trailhead) about 9:50am.

The trail begins climbing immediately, and a minute or two into the hike there's a trail intersection. There's a trail to the left, but we continued straight uphill, shortly entering the Kaiser Wilderness. This first section, up to the next trail intersection, is about 1.8 miles with 800 feet of climbing. Along the way we saw wildflowers, snowplants, some meadows, mostly closed forest. It was not quite as nice as the Twin Lakes hike, where there are more views. It probably didn't help that it was a much warmer day today.

Entering the Kaiser Wilderness

We found a spot among some corn lilies for a snack break, just before the next trail intersection. After our break, a few minutes up the trail we reached the next trail intersection. To the right is a path toward Mary's Meadow. We stayed to the left, continuing on the trail up toward Nellie Lake. This next section of trail is much more gentle. In fact, some of it even heads slightly downhill. In all though, this section to the next intersection gains about 300 feet in elevation in 1.4 miles. Along the way are some meadows and scattered stream crossings.

Corn lilies

Trail through the corn lilies

Butterfly

Snow plant

At the next intersection, we turned left to head to Nellie Lake. The first part of this trail is probably the steepest part of the hike, gaining almost 600 feet in just 0.8 miles. At this point the trail levels off, and at this point we encountered a large group (maybe 30) of young adult day hikers leaving Nellie Lake.

After the trail levels off briefly, it descends about 100 feet down to the shore of Nellie Lake. We found a nice spot along the northern shore of the lake. We could hear the voices of the hikers who'd started before us, further up the shore but hidden from view. At the shore of the lake we could see hundreds of blue damselflies, flying all over the place. Many were congregated in a grassy area right on the water, while many more seem attracted to a large tree that had fallen into the water.

Damselflies above the water

Nellie Lake

Nellie Lake

Damselflies concentrated on a fallen tree

Damselflies concentrated on a fallen tree

Nellie Lake itself is pretty enough, but not as nice as Upper Twin Lake. The setting is not nearly as dramatic. Still, we found a nice spot to settle down for lunch. We stayed at the lake for a little over an hour, during which time the other hikers headed back.

Damselfly mating

Butterfly

Butterfly

Damselfly mating

Nellie Lake

We retraced our steps, heading back up the trail, then downhill. We ran into a couple of backpackers with a dog, and then a jogger also with a dog. Those were the only other people we saw on the trail. We arrived back at the parking lot at 4:10pm, about 2 hours after we'd left the lake.

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