The trail to Necklace Valley starts on a gentle grade gaining only about 600 feet in the first 5 miles as the path meanders through lush second-growth forest. In the spring and early summer a large variety of wildflowers can be found here, especially when you approach the last couple miles of this stretch where the thinner crowns of trees let little bit more sun touch the ground. Trillium, yellow violets, columbines, lupins and many more line the trail. Frequent is also a stinging nettle and if you find part of the trail overgrown you might not be able to pass it unscathed.
The pleasant walk ends abruptly when you arrive at the crossing of East Fork Foss River. Several campsites can be found here which would be great for families with smaller children who might not have the stamina for the upcoming climb or those new to backpacking who are still testing their limits with heavier pack. Those with creaky knees might also consider this to be a good turning point.
The trail changes dramatically after the crossing. The path is now marred by roots and rocks and on occasion you might have to rely on cairns to lead you through a rock slide area. The climb is steep and gruelling. You will gain 2,400 feet in less than 3 miles. At the end of this slow ascent you’ll arrive at the outlet of Jade Lake. The views will be well deserved.
The terrain eases as the path takes you deeper into the valley. For next couple of miles you will be on a stroll again heading towards Opal Lake. There is a maze of side trail in the area which might confuse you. Stick with what appears to be the main trail. The trail will be rolling up and down, with ascents never too steep and never too long.
At Opal valley the official trail ends. Those looking for more adventure can access La Bohn Lakes from here and the standard route to Mt. Hinman. This endeavor is more pleasant as a snow ascent in early season. Later in the summer you will deal with steep intimidating talus slope.
Little less challenging is an ascent to Tanks and Foehn Lakes. It still requires a great deal of effort but the moraine you will be ascending is not nearly as steep as the approach to La Bohn Lakes. Again this ascent might be little easier on snow but frequent cairns will lead you through the terrain when the snow is gone and only minimal use of hands is required at the very beginning of the route when boulder hopping.
Tanks Lakes were our objective, or respectively Lower Tank Lake which offers more dramatic views. It was still covered under snow with only small portions melted out which were the most beautiful celeste blue. We spent the evening exploring around the lake and later we received a treat of a colorful sunset with hues of vibrant pink across the sky. Not even a sliver of breeze dared to disturb the magic of the setting sun and for the longest time we sat on a slab above the lake in absolute silence and watched the colors fade wishing we had one more day to spend here.
Hiked: 5/30/2015 – 5/31/2015
Distance: 21 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 7025 ft