- Cabinet Mountains
- Several spots at Little Spar Lake
- Good, but brushy in the open spaces. The last bit is quite rocky
The trail starts out on an old logging road, which over time shrank back to a singletrack and makes for easy hiking. About a half mile in is the fork to Spar Peak, which switchbacks steeply uphill; stay on the road. Only slightly later is another fork, with the right (the old logging road) leading to a bridge across Spar Creek and nothing else. Instead, bear left on a proper singletrack that climbs modestly, with the trail almost hidden in flowers and grasses. Delphinium is particularly prolific.
Roughly at the 1.5-mile mark the trail approaches Spar Creek and crosses it, which is the only dicey fording, particularly earlier in the year. A log helps with the endeavor, but it was quite slick from recent rains (but late in July it wouldn’t be hard to ford if it came to that). The trail then ascends above the creek and parallels it beneath a nice and shady canopy of giant hemlock and fir. Mountain goats frequent the sheer cliffs of Spar Peak and bears also call this area home, including grizzlies, but we saw neither bear nor goat.
Once you are a bit over halfway up, the forest yields to alpine meadows and the trail re-approaches Spar Creek, which at this elevation is still graced with massive snow banks, even in July. The vista opens up fantastically, whether that’s uphill along tumbling Spar Creek framed with wildflowers, the massive granite flank of Spar Peak, or the distant mouth of Spar Creek and the Cabinet Mountains beyond. The trail is more overgrown here, too, and there are a few tributaries to cross, none of which will cause wet boots.
For the last three-quarters of a mile, the trail’s grade steepens and it shares the bed, littered with large rocks, with a brook on and off. Before arriving at the lake, the trail flattens somewhat, then spreads to three or four campsites near the outlet of the lake. A faint angler trail extends along either shore of the lake for a bit, but is quickly lost. Near the lake’s outlet are several huge flat-topped boulders that invite for lingering and sunbathing, or, as was the case for us, drying off pants, socks, shoes, and hide that had gotten soaked in the dripping delphiniums on the way up.