- Date hiked: 09/06/2021
- Hiked from: North Inlet Junction Campground
- Distance hiked: 2 miles from North Inlet Junction Campground
- Total elevation gain: about 900 ft
- Maintained trail: No
- Overall Difficulty: 8/10 – very faint trail in and out. In a burn zone.
- Overall Views: 7/10 – Very nice views of wonderland valley, a place not many get to see.
Reaching Bench Lake
We hiked to Bench Lake on a back country camping trip at the North Inlet Junction Campground. One year ago a lot of this area was affected by the East Troublesome Wildfire. If you want to do this as a day hike, a recommended route would be taking the North Inlet Trail for about 7.5 miles from the North Inlet Trailhead. There’s no signage for this landmark. Do look for a fishing sign though at Ptarmigan Creek. This is where you want to follow the creek up to the lake. Easier than it sounds.
We stayed to the east side of the creek. Passing a long string of cascades named War Dance Falls. There’s signs of a social trail every now and then but most of it was damaged from the wildfire. The route finding isn’t too difficult but you want to make sure you don’t cliff out. Nothing should exceed Class 2 climbing if you take the path of least resistance. When we hiked this there were lots of downed trees. Many burnt and unstable. Not a family friendly hike.
After about 900 feet of elevation gain and 1 mile from the maintained trail, we reached Bench Lake. We had the whole lake to ourselves. This was just the start of our adventure on this day though. We continued on into the valley and hiked to Ptarmigan Lake, ‘Wonderland Lake’ and Snowdrift Lake.