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I made a very tough hike to the chain of four Granite Lakes south of Marblemount in search of arctic grayling and cutthroat trout. Upper Granite Lake is the only lake to have grayling in either Washington or Oregon.

This hike should only be done by experienced, in shape outdoorsmen who know how to use a map and have a lot of patience. It's not the 7 mile/ 3500 foot elevation gain that's so bad. What will get you is the fact that the majority of the trail is no longer a trail but merely a bear run full of wet brush to bust through, deadfall to climb over and under, and washouts to navigate. Oh yes, there are also two creek crossings, one of which is just plain dangerous. It ended up taking me 5 hours to go a mere 6.5 miles to camp. Plan on another 1/2 hour to hour and a half of even rougher hiking to make it to fishing spots at Upper Granite Lake from this point.

If you do make it though, the rewards can be great. Granite Lakes No. 1 and 2 both hold cutthroat trout that will take spinners or flies. I suspect that Lower Granite Lake also has these fish, though I have not made it up to that particular piece of water.

Upper Granite Lake can be fished from shore at the outlet (a 7 mile total hike) or the inlet area (an 8 mile total hike up and over a steep saddle). Grayling fishing is catch and release only so use barbless hooks, don't use bait and don't keep the fish out of the water any longer than you need to. Cutthroat Trout fishing is also good here, and I caught fish from 8 to 14 inches in size. The grayling I caught ran from 8 to 11 inches.

This is not a lake where you will catch 30 or 40 fish in a day. I think I had an exceptional day catching and releasing a total of 12 cutts and grayling at Upper Granite Lake. I suspect fishing would be better if you hauled a float tube up here. The lake is 144 acres and as I mentioned, only a small portion is available for shore anglers to fish because of the steep granite cliffs that surround much of the lake.

If you go, be very "bear aware" and be prepared for any emergencies that may come up. I didn't see another person in the three days I spent at this destination. Having said that, it is a beautiful place to go and get away from it all while pursuing a very unique species of fish. John Kruse