Friday, July 3, 2015

Angel Lake to Smith Lake Hike - Wells Nevada


Introduction


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.


The Hike


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.  

Conclusion


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










Smith Lake

Smith Lake





Climb among the boulders






Awesome view of the western Wells Valley


Shelter if I needed it.









Don't look down








Back at Angel Lake



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