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Frog Lake Trail — October 2008

By Dan Paquette

The Frog Lake Trail just outside of Darrington is a wonderful old growth hike that can easily be done on a sunny October afternoon. I recommend starting up this short trail late morning or early afternoon when the sun will be lighting up the understory as you walk in a south-southwesterly direction. Out and back is about 2 1/4 miles, elevation gain about 400 feet. All page references to plants in this description are to Pojar and Mackinnon’s Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast unless otherwise noted.

The trail begins with a gentle ascent through Geum macrophyllum (Large-Leaved Avens, p.185), Gaultheria shallon (Salal p. 53), and typical lowland ferns as well as Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern, p. 423). After climbing no more than twenty or thirty feet, look back for a good view of Clear Creek. Note where it flows into the Siuttle River beyond the bridge. Resuming your uphill climb:

autumn sunlight, touch
the dusty puffs of hylocomium moss.
spent skeletal sword fern fronds
gray ribs no longer writhe, nor cast forth spores—
morsels to birds, insects
more than that ingested or detected

The waters persist in whispering in the canyon, and the branches overhead hold onto their cat-tail mosses. The trail squeezes between a large cedar and Douglas Fir, and soon after, the trail bumps into a road, but heads immediately back into the woods on your left.

After about a half mile, the trail levels. The pathway is lined with Tolmiea menziesii (Piggy-Back Plant, p. 168). Look under the larger mats of these plants and note that part of the understory is covered with a large thalloid liverwort called Conocephalalum conicum (Snake Liverwort, p. 446) On the bottom side of this liverwort, along its margins, look for large stringy gobs of mycelia (fungus) growing. The fungus must be doing its job, assisting plants, creating soil, for high above, the Western Red Cedars are not suffering from poor posture or a negative selfconcept.

After about a mile, you will encounter another road. Go left on the road. In about 250 paces, you will find easy access to the lake. The partially submerged horsetail is Equisetum fluviatile (Swamp Horsetail, p. 430). Along the shore and underneath the Spirea douglasii is a small prostrate to rising opposite leaved plant, flowers having four petals, two anthers, pubescent stems. This appears to be Veronica scutellata (Hitchcock, p.444). For this trip, I recommend having your poles along. Also bring a garbage bag for litter.

I’d leave the cans in the lake since the tadpoles and insect larvae seem to readily use them for shelter and cover. To reach the trailhead, drive to Darrington on SR 530. At the east end of town where SR 530 turns north, turn right (south) and in just a mile or two, you'll pass the Clear Creek Campground on the left. Just beyond this on the right is a pullout just before a bridge. The trailhead is located here. Display your Northwest Trails Pass.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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