Inspired by my recent visit to Monte Cristo ghost town and seduced by the mystery of ghost towns in general, I started to browse the website www.ghosttownsofwashington.com. This website uses a coal mining symbol to rate each site, from 1 to 4 coal mining hammer and picks on a coal mining wagon. 1 – means that no artifacts remain, 2 – there are only foundations, 3 – artifacts and foundations and 4 – artifacts, foundations and structures.
I browsed the level 4 (the website calls them Class C) sites near us, in King County, and decided I should visit Lester. Ellena also loves ghost towns, so both of us went on Sunday.
Here’s a thing: just because it’s in King County, doesn’t mean that it’s close. Lester is off exit 62 on I-90, which is ten miles over the Snoqualmie Pass. Once you exit, take a right and get on FS-54. The first one mile of the road is paved, but the next 12.5 miles is a gravel mountain road. Do not attempt in a Mini Cooper. Be sure to have a rugged AWD that you don’t mind getting very dirty. Tons of potholes, so slow down and try not to drink anything as you’re driving.
Another caveat: FS-54 is an elusive road. It is met with lots of other forest roads and guess what? At some point, we ended up on FS-41. Long story short, we got lost for 40 (yes, FORTY!) miles, trying to find our way out of the maze of forest roads. We were lost for HOURS. At some point I almost considered turning around and going home, only I wasn’t so sure I could find my way home. So instead, I was determined to find my way back on to FS-54.
The roads are not well marked. A few are, once in a while, but don’t count on them. It’s best to have an actual GPS, I think, which I don’t have. I rely on my phone for directions, which is pretty much useless without internet connection. Unless I download ForeverMap, of course, which I should’ve done before leaving the house!
When we finally arrived at the trailhead it was after 2pm (the trailhead is right at the end of FS-54; you will recognize it when you see the yellow gate with the “Walk In Only” sign). It was raining too. The weather lately is not very summer-like. The spring was beautiful and promising, but both June and July have been pretty much miserable. Even on days like that Sunday. The forecast was showing partly sunny and 75 degrees. It ended up raining and was much colder than that. Luckily, I always bring a raincoat with me when I go on a hike. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way, by getting soaked more than once.
The hike itself isn’t much of a hike. It’s a completely flat road and only two plus miles each way. It was actually for the best, at this point, because we got there so late. It’s not like we had either the time or the energy for a longer hike.
The foggy, gloomy, weather did inspire us however to talk about Twin Peaks and David Lynch! Who’s excited for the new season?! This girl!
The Lester ghost town is a very young ghost town. A hashtag written on one of the houses assured us that it’s haunted though.
Lester was still a thriving little town back in the 1980s. There are pictures of it that Ellena found that show it in its prime. Today a couple of houses remain. Also a shed and a barn.
There was a group of teenagers exploring the place at the same time as we got there. I think I’d have loved this place as a teenager! As a teenager I probably too would’ve risked having a roof cave in on me, but as an adult who values my head too much, I decided not to go in. And I forbid Ellena from going in also! I don’t think it’s safe to trespass in any boarded up structure.
To be honest, if I ever venture here again it will be in a combination with another hike. The PCT intersects with one of the roads we got lost on, so there’s some other hiking in the area. It might be worth the drive if we were to do another hike that day, and also not get lost getting there!
Not a whole lot of wildlife on this hike (except for the grouse that ran out in front of my car, a bunny whose picture I didn’t take because it was too fast, and some chipmunks), but lots of these jelly-looking slugs! They looked strangely delicious to me. Like gummy worms.
And then there were these fuzzy flowers. Very pretty!
Unless you’re a psychopath, you really can’t argue with this statement. Normally, I wouldn’t support random graffiti, but it’s true, you know?
5 miles, 91 ft of elevation
YTD Hiking Miles: 60.8