Hike Difficulty: easy
Trail Length: 3.3 mi loop + 0.25 mi for Little Squaw trail
Elevation Gain: Not much on the loop, but a few hundred feet on Little Squaw
My Rating (out of 5): 4.0 – This was a nice, simple trail that was easy to get to. To get there, go to Applegate Lake and turn east across the dam. Then just follow the road for 8.5 miles until it dead-ends at a designated parking area. The access road to Squaw Lakes is gated and is found on the other side of the road from the parking. I had a panic moment because I was supposed to pay $5 for parking and only had a $10 bill, but I was a terrible person and just didn’t pay altogether. Luckily, it is out of season and no one came to ticket me or anything.
The loop trail goes around Big Squaw Lake and is pretty flat. It is wide enough for a vehicle to drive around, though the gate prevents campers and hikers from driving in. I was craving a bit of a climb and the loop trail didn’t do much to satisfy that. At the far end of the lake, there was a few campsites down at an area called Mulligan Bay. There was even a raft and canoe that was available to use, but I needed to have a second person to row with me, so I passed on canoeing this time.
Around Mulligan Bay the entrance to the interpretive trail that leads to Little Squaw Lake is found. I didn’t know this existed or where it lead. I just knew that it was more climb-y than the trail I was currently on, so I took it. It was a little rougher of a trail with much less wear from less frequent use. Still, it provided for some awesome views of streams and Little Squaw itself. I lost the trail and ended up getting into some swampy soil, so I’ll have to come back to try again another time.
Backtracking from Little Squaw, I took a turn that was marked by a sign that said “meadow”. This open meadow was a nice resting spot before I continued down the path that lead me back to the loop trail. I had to rehike part of it to get back to Mulligan Bay. From there, I completed the other half of the loop, got back to my car, and drove around taking pictures of Applegate for a bit longer. Enjoy the beauty!