Description: The trail actually starts across highway 89 from the
parking area at the sign-board. The first part of the trail is steep
climbing 320 feet in 1/4 mile and will need to be taken slowly by novice
hikers, but it flattens quickly as you approach Big Meadow. The trail
to Scott's Lake splits off to the left (east) from the main trail just
after a horse gate/fence before you get to Big Meadow. The main trail
continues on to Big Meadow which you soon learn is appropriately named.
The trail to Dardanelles and Round Lakes heads directly across Big Meadow
and is hard to miss as it cuts a swath through the meadow grass.
The Scott's Lake trail is a little less obvious but heads east between
the south side of Waterhouse Peak and Big Meadow Creek. The trail climbs
steadily through a thin, mixed forest gaining about 450 feet in elevation
over about 2 miles. A short, steep section lets you know you are getting
close to the lake. It is possible to hike down from Scott's Lake on
a jeep trail to the east and end up in Hope Valley...but then you are
a long way from your car!
Lake: After crossing Big Meadow, the trail enters a fine fir and
pine forest intermixed with some aspens. The trail widens and, though
always climbing, becomes less steep. The trail makes its way up a broad
drainage with some fine views of small meadows and tall peaks. Wildflowers
blooming here in July and August add their beauty to the hike. After
a little over a mile, the trail begins to climb a bit more steeply until
it tops out at a saddle on the ridge that separates the Meiss and Big
Meadow drainage basins. The trail then makes a short, steep slanting
path down the ridge where it intersects the Meiss Meadow Trail. Heading
left (up) this trail, will take you to Round Lake, but to get to Dardanelles,
turn right (down) on this trail and hike less than 1/4 mile before looking
for a smaller trail that goes off to the left (west). This trail may,
or may not, be signed. Once you make the turn west, the trail is easy
to follow as it winds through more beautiful forest, across several
seasonal streams, and by a pond full of lily pads and reeds. After about
a mile of easy hiking, the trail turns sharply south and up a steep,
short section before topping out where the cliffs lining Dardanelles
southern shore come into view. The lake has many fine picnic spots and
campsites from which to choose, as well as clear, cold water to get
refreshed before the hike back. To return, simply reverse your trail.
Lake: Where the Big Meadow Trail hits the Meiss Meadow Trail, turning
up canyon (left) will put you on the path to Round Lake. As the trail
climbs gently up the canyon, you will see wonderful volcanic cliffs
composed of loose rock off to your left. After 1 mile or so, Round Lake
will come into view. It is a nice spot for a snack and a rest, or even
an overnight stay! To continue to Meiss Meadow, follow the trail as
it passes the lake on the east then continues to head slightly uphill
past Meiss Lake and finally into Meiss Meadow.
Concerns: None but the usual...keep it clean, pack it out,
pick up after those who didn't, stay 100 yards away from steams and
lakes when...you know...you've gotta go.
This is a mutli-use trail which means you can come across hikers, mountain
bikers, and equestrians (no motorcycles!). It is easier, and less damaging
to the environment if you step off the trail to let the bikers and riders
pass, rather than making them go around you. Say hi, share a smile, and
remember we all need to share our dwindling natural resources.