You will want a map of the area and as you can see they are available. We started at crags trailhead in the lower right quarter of this map.
There is a fair amount of parking space and a bit more in the overflow area.
Register here. When entering the wilderness area you need to record your plan so if you don't come out they know where to start looking for you.
The trail starts out rather rocky as it climbs the ridge.
Shortly you enter the Frank Church Wilderness Area.
The trail follows a ridge for several miles. The hiking is easy and the path is mostly sandy.
At about 4 miles in just before Catherdral Rock you will find a fork in the trail. We followed it down to a meadow above Catherdral Lake then found a path down to the lake where we spent our first night. We had decided to camp here since we were coming in in the afternoon. It was a pleasant place to camp. There are a few campsites around the lake but we camped right where we came down the hill.
The trail is fairly steep here but gets steeper as you drop down to the lake.
The next morning we climbed back up to the main trail and started to Birdbill Lake where we planned to camp our second night.
You will find another fork in the trail as you pass on the SW side of Cathedral rock. This trail leads down in Wilson Creek. This is where we came back up after visiting Welcome Lake.
I included this picture because it shows just how rugged it is.
This is the trail shortly before reaching the junction between the trail to Wilson Lake and Ship Island Lake
This was our first view of Wilson and Harbor Lakes.
The trail works its way down to this junction. Left goes to Wilson Lake while right goes to Birdbill Lake.
This is the trail to the right which is where we went.The trail was cut into the mountain at some point in the past.
This is near Birdbill Lake. They have done a lot of work building this trail and it is awesome compared to what it would have been like before a trail was built!
Our camp on Birdbill Lake. There are multiple campsites close to the lake and on the hill above. We woke up the next morning to find seven bighorn sheep grazing on the cliffs across the lake but we weren't done for the day yet. It was still early afternoon so we climbed the ridge to the north to look at Crater Lake.
The trail to Crater Lake led past Gentian Lake. There are more campsites along it also. By the way the trail to Crater Lake is only a little over one mile but it is very steep.
The large lake is Crater Lake above it is Gooseneck Lake and the top one is Glacier Lake. The trail leads down but we were planning on taking a look at Ship Island Lake so headed back down to take the trail from Birdbill Lake up the hill to the west.
This is the view of Airplane Lake and Ship Island with the Crags beyond.
On day three we packed up and climbed back to the pass near Wilson Lake. The trail to Wilson Lake is also cut into the rock of the mountain. We made a huge day of it on day three. Starting from Birdbill we climbed up and then over to Wilson Lake and Harbor Lake. Then down to Welcome Lake where we ate lunch. From Welcome Lake we climbed up the ridge to Cathedral Rock and on to the trailhead. Believing there was no water at the Crags Campground we backpacked down to Golden Trout Lake for the night. I guess it was a good excuse to camp at one more lake. The day totaled 15 miles and 2600 foot elevation gain. Pretty tough on an old man.
Wilson Lake offers an amazing view with Fish Fin Ridge towering over the lake. There are campsites at either end of the lake.
Harbor Lake is a very short hike from Wilson Lake. We saw several available campsites here. Oh, we found one campsite occupied at both Wilson and Harbor Lakes. These were the only occupied camps we found.
The trail down Wilson Creek to Welcome Lake. It takes off from the trail on the south side of Wilson Lake. You will notice it on your way to Harbor Lake.
Part of the trail down crosses huge rock knobs and sometimes is only visible due to the rocks lining the path.
It's a long steep hike down from Wilson Lake to this junction. Cross the creek to go to Welcome Lake and points beyond or take the path behind me to climb back up to the ridge near Cathedral Rock.
This campsite at Welcome Lake comes with quite a view!
A panaramic view of Welcome Lake and the peak beyond.
After leaving Welcome Lake we hiked up to Cathedral Rock. This is typical of that section.
I imaged the rock ahead to be a skull. It kind of looks like a monster sitting there.
Finally at the end of a very long day we made camp at Golden Trout Lake.
Golden Trout Lake from the main trail.