Tuck and Robin Lake

This weekend was one of the weekends Mel, Tayla and I had booked in together at the start of the year. When coming up with an objective we decided a night in a tent was called for and I suggested Tuck and Robin lake. These lakes have been on my radar for many years but I’ve always been a little turned off because they are extremely popular and can get crazy busy. We decided to take our chances, preparing to camp elsewhere if we needed.

The trailhead is deep in the mountains requiring 12 miles of driving on a pretty bumpy road with a river crossing! It’s the same trailhead that accesses Jade Lake and Dip Top Peak which I did a few years ago. This was the latest in the season I’d been on this road so the river crossing was very manageable, even low clearance cars making it across. We were surprised at how busy the trailhead was, cars were parked about a half-mile down the road from the actual trailhead. My tactic was to drive to the end and turn around so we were facing the right way. We got lucky and someone was leaving just as we arrived! Perfect park!

The trail starts flat for the first few miles, passing Hyas lake. Hyas lake was beautiful and still providing some nice reflections and views up to Cathedral Rock. After Hyas the trail climbs around 600ft up switchbacks to the junction for Tuck and Robin lake. I am sort of surprised there is a signpost on the turnoff because from my understanding the trail up the Tuck and Robin isn’t maintained. The trail to Tuck is steep! it climbs 1000ft in just under a mile. After just coming off the JMT I feel like it was a real shock to my calves to be off of such a well-graded trail.

Tayla and I got a little ahead of Mel on this part so we waited at Tuck lake. Taking the opportunity to eat lunch and filter some water. Tuck is a pretty lake but doesn’t offer that much in the way of camping or views. The hardest navigating of the trip was our next stretch getting around Tuck lake. There are so many social trails on the lakeside that it was hard to know which path to take. These trails tend to be pretty scrambly which I think we originally made the mistake of trying to avoid the scrambly parts but they were in fact the best way to go. The best route sticks close to the shore of Tuck lake. We knew we were on track when we crossed the log jam at the outlet of Tuck lake. From here we found red-tape flagging the way up to robin lake.

From the outlet of Tuck lake, the trail steeply follows the ridge to 5,800ft and traversers climbers left to join a gully for the final push to robin lake. The trail requires several sections where you need to use your hands to pull yourself up over big rock steps. I found this pretty fun and enjoyed the climb. The trail is pretty beaten down so mostly obvious as to which way to go. As we got higher we were rewarded with views of Mt Daniel off to the east. From this perspective of Daniel, you can see many of its summits, and you get a great view of the East summit which I skied with Kat last year. The final section of the climb requires climbing up slabs following cairns. Almost the whole way up from Tuck lake was in the sun and I was definitely feeling it on this part of the climb.

To my relief, we reached the Robin lake basin and set out to find somewhere to camp. We settled on a spot in between the upper and lower of robins lakes. We found a big granite slab above lower robin lake to sit and enjoy the views of the lake with Mt Daniel behind. After we reunited with Mel again, Tayla decided to take a swim. She was braver than me, my best chance would have been when we first arrived, the lakeside breeze had cooled me off too much.

After some camp lazing, Tayla and I set out to climb Granite Mountain leaving around 5:30 pm. We followed the trail which runs between the two Robins Lakes, which climbs steadily and topping out at around 6,800ft. The views from this ridge were fantastic, allowing a birds-eye view of robin lakes and revealing more and more mountain layers as the elevation increased. We got views of Glacier peak off to the North and Tayla and I were both surprised to see how bare its South face is. The heatwave earlier in the summer really did a number on our glaciers. At 6,800ft the route drops to a saddle that leads to the proper summit of Granite. This drop was extremely steep with loose rock making it my least favourite part of the climb. We took it slowly, keeping close as neither of us had helmets on.

From the saddle, it was an easy walk up to the ridge of Granite Mountain. From the summit, we got views to the east of Mt Stuart and some awesome looking tarns in the basin below. The summit itself has some big granite boulders sitting on top of each other. I scrambled to the top to take in the views! We had a breeze on the summit and it was now past 6 pm so we didn’t hang around too long and opted to head back down to camp where dinner (and Mel) were waiting for us! The steep loose section was nowhere near as bad going back up. Plenty of solid rocks for some class 3 scrambling. If I was to do Granite again I’d probably do it from the trail that goes along the east side of Robin Lake. From what we could see it looks like it sticks to meadows and you can avoid the steep/loose bit. I’d also do it in the morning because you’d get way better light on Mt Daniel for photos/views. For us, there was a lot of glare to the west from the setting sun.

I was definitely hangry when we got back to camp but happy to hang out and watch the sunset on our slab overlooking lower Robin Lake. We piled into the tent when it got dark and managed to get an amazing 11hr sleep not stirring until past 8 the next morning!

On our second day, we lazed around camp for the morning. We’d planned to maybe climb Trico, another nearby peak. But when I saw it as we were heading up to Granite the day before I lost interest. The day felt warmer than the previous and after we packed up camp I took a swim! It was freezing and I barely lasted more than a few seconds but the cold water sure felt revitalizing! The hike back out to the car only took us about 3 hrs. We were relieved to make it back to the shade once we descended from Tuck lake. On the whole, the trail was way dustier than I remembered on the way up.

I really enjoyed Robin Lake, and even though there were a lot of people I feel like there was a lot of room for everyone to spread out at the lakes. I wish I hadn’t put it off so long for this reason because it was such a beautiful spot!

  • Jan Gatenby

    Looks like a lovely spot! And though you said there were lots of people there, you seem to have managed to keep them out of your photos. Well done!

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