Ever since I ran the Race to the Angel Half Marathon (race recap here) I've wanted to explore the rest of Angel Lake -- about 13 miles south of Wells, Nevada and situated at about 8375 feet above sea level.
Being that I have a bunch of freebies for Elko Nevada, I decided that on my way I was going to stop in Wells, drive up the route I ran up (about 2700 feet of elevation gain) and take in the scenery. In addition, I discovered that there was another lake just behind Angel Lake called Smith Lake, which according to a website I found was nearly 5 mile hike. I am happy to report that this hike was far far less than that -- coming in at about 3 miles and I would rate it as mild to easy.
I rolled into Wells just around 12:30 Pacific time and got some super expensive gas (I think I chose the most expensive place to get it) and ate a Subway. It was incredibly hot on the way out there and I think my A/C in my car isn't working that great so I was feeling really warm. The temperatures were climbing into the mid nineties and I was really worried about what it was going to be like in Wells.
By the time I reached Wells, though, the temperature was reading about 89 thanks to some elevation gains. Luckily the higher I ascended up the southern Humboldt forest mountains towards the lake, the cooler it got. When I parked at the free hiking lot my car read 83. It was still warm but not blasting hot despite the intense sun.
I grabbed some water and icy drinks that I had brought from Salt Lake and quickly jumped on the trail head.
July 4th is a GREAT time to visit this trail. There were a TON of flowers... reds, oranges, yellows and tons of purples. I was blown away with how many wildflowers there were. Just awesome.
The hike was single-track trail that was easy to navigate. I did have to open and close a fence (for some odd reason) to access the trail which at first I thought was private property. Luckily another hiker coming down the trail said I was going the right way.
Getting to the lake took about 40 minutes. I got some beautiful panoramic views of the Wells Valley along the way.
The climb was gradual and I was definitely working up a sweat. I was worried a bit about snakes since there was a lot of low shrubbery, but I didn't see any.
The final push to Smith Lake was challenging but definitely not the worst climb I've done.
I basically cooled my feet in the lake (some people were fishing and swimming). The trail abruptly ends up there so you basically have to scramble to see other things. I am glad I did because I got some incredible pictures of the western valley.
After soaking in the views for a good 30 - 40 minutes I made my way back down and paid my regards to Angel Lake -- where there were a ton of people swimming, fishing and jumping from a large rock outcropping into the lake below.
In short, this was one of the BEST hikes I've done in a long time. There are some huge payoffs here. Cell phone reception was spotty but at times I had 4G access.
I also can't believe that I actually ran up to this lake from downtown Wells. To this day I still have fond (and not so fond memories) of that race.
Enjoy the photos:
|The drive up is pretty cool. I'll be hiking where the snow is.
|About halfway there
|Let's start hiking
|Just above Angel Lake
|Just above Angel Lake
|About half a mile into the hike
|Climb among the boulders
|Awesome view of the western Wells Valley
|Shelter if I needed it.
|Don't look down
|Back at Angel Lake