Located on the “dry” side of the Cascade Mountains, tour the outstanding beauty and limitless recreational opportunities surrounding Rimrock and Clear Lakes. Extend your time along this lakeshore drive with year-round options for outdoor fun. In the summer, enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, boating and wildlife watching. Come winter, opt for a trek by snowshoe, on cross-country skis or bring the snowmobiles for adventure in this winter wonderland. Picturesque campgrounds, shining alpine lakes, splendid pine forests and fantastic mountain landscapes create a lasting impression of the area’s rugged beauty.
Road Trip Itinerary
Length: 15.9 miles
Time to Allow: 45 minutes (allow extra time for stops)
Open Season: The route is usually snow-free by the end of May and remains open through October. The road closes each year due to winter snowfall from November to May.
Driving Directions: Near mile marker 158, turn right off of US Highway 12 onto Tieton Reservoir Road (FR 1200). Travel on Tieton Reservoir Rd. 15.9 miles until the road rejoins US Highway 12, nine miles east of the beginning of the route.
Start: This journey begins at the intersection of US Highway 12 and Tieton Reservoir Road, about 27 miles east of Packwood and 31 miles west of Naches.
Stop 1: Clear Lake North Campground
Beautiful in the spring and summer months, Clear Lake North Campground sits nestled in a forested area on the North Fork Tieton River between Rimrock and Clear Lakes. It is an ideal location for fishing – rainbow trout is stocked regularly each summer. On those warm summer days take a dip in its refreshing waters, or set off on one of the many nearby hiking trails. Enjoy the fantastic beauty and the peace and quiet of this little-known getaway. At 3100’ feet this campground is open May through September.
Stop 2: Clear Lake Day Use Site
Stop at the Clear Lake Day Use Site and explore the wonder of the wilderness. Stroll the trails leading to many viewing stations along the lake. Watch the water for rainbow and brook trout as well as cutthroat and bull trout and be on the lookout for the many species of waterfowl including ring-necked ducks and osprey that use these wetland areas. Take a walk amongst the forest and search for wildflowers. In the summer months, flowers such as Calypso orchid, Indian paintbrush, trillium and bluebells find their home in these shady woods. A picnic area is available as well as fishing dock and access to the lake for swimming. It is also a popular birding site.
Stop 3: Round Mountain Trailhead
Up, up, and away! Hike to the top of Round Mountain through forests of fir and pine. Take in the views of Rimrock Lake and Clear Lake far below. The route ascends through forests of ponderosa pine, western white pine, western hemlock and Douglas fir. Soon Clear Lake and Rimrock Lake come into view far below. After 1.4 miles, the trail continues along an abandoned roadbed. Climbing steadily further you reach the junction with Round Mountain Lookout Trail. Turn left at this junction and ascend among the huckleberries and small alpine trees until reaching the summit of Round Mountain at elevation 5,971 feet. Not much remains of the old lookout. From here, across the never-ending forests, take in the views of magnificent Mt. Rainier, as well as the jagged peaks of the Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams.
Travel Clear Lake Road for three miles to Road 830. The trailhead is located at the end of Forest Road 830. The Round Mountain Trail approaching from the Round Mountain trailhead is a moderate to strenuous 5 mile round-trip hike. The trail is accessible July through September. In the winter months, it is a popular trek for telemarkers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
Stop 4: North Fork Tieton Sno-Park
A fantastic option for family ski and snowshoeing trails is located at the North Fork Tieton Sno-Park. With a little something for everyone, the groomed trails are rated easy for youngsters and beginners, while well-marked ungroomed routes wait for the more adventurous, steep and deep crowd. Enjoy the spectacular views of 7,900 foot Old Snowy Mountain as you traverse through the pine forests and subalpine meadows. A well-kept secret this area offers a quiet respite from other, more well-known sno-parks.
Stop 5: Clear Lake South Campground
Sandwiched between Rimrock and Clear Lakes, this campground is a stunning outdoor setting. In the summer months, boating, fishing and canoeing are all popular pastimes. Nearby trails lead into the Goat Rocks Wilderness and in September, visit nearby Clear Lake Dam to see swarms of spawning Kokanee salmon. The campground is open May through September.
Stop 6: Pinegrass Ridge Snowmobile Park
At elevation 2,250 feet, over 58 miles of snowmobile trails beckon the winter adventurer ready to speed through the snow. Experience the chills and thrills of snowmobiling through the forest.
Notice: Quaking Aspens
Unique to the surrounding forests, look upon the scenic grove of quaking aspens lining the roadside. In fall, these beautiful trees turn a brilliant shade of gold. The aspen grove is also home to many birds, including the Red-naped Sapsucker.
Stop 7: Forest Road 1200711 Peninsula
Nestled on the shores of Rimrock Lake, this dispersed camping area offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountain peaks. A boat ramp offers boaters a day out on the water. Waterskiing, fishing, sailing and swimming are all popular ways to experience the lake. Stop here for a picturesque picnic lunch or stay a few days to soak in the area’s beauty. In the winter, it is also a popular starting point for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Watch the trees for bald eagles who regularly nest in and around this campground.
Stop 8: Milk Creek / USFS Road 1708
Stop here for an excellent day of snowmobiling through the pine forests. Over 68 miles of trails provide a day of snow play as you zoom your way in and about the trees.
Stop 9: Forest Road 1201, Lost Lake
In the summer months, this forest road winds its way up from the valley floor to a small, quiet campground, nestled on the shores of Lost Lake. It is a prime location for exploring the natural beauty of nearby meadows and lakes.
Once winter arrives, Forest Road 1201 transforms to a cross-country skiing playground. Traverse through park-like forests of pine. Soak in the views of Bethel Ridge in the distance and take pleasure in the quiet beauty of the snow-covered forest.
To reach Lost Lake, take Forest Road 1201 4.75 miles and turn left on Spur Road 562 and continue .25 miles to the campground.
End: The route comes to an end as Tieton Reservoir Rd. ends and rejoins Highway 12.
Always drive with caution and expect wildlife. Please check local ranger stations for winter road closures.
Download the Rimrock Lake Recreation Loop Road Trip Itinerary