A steep climb rewards you with huckleberries, stunning mountain views, wildflower meadows and a charming alpine lake along the Pacific Crest Trail.
The trail begins near the eastern end of Walupt Campground and the start of the Walupt Lake Trail. Just 70 yards up the trail, visit the information and map board and collect your wilderness permit if you are planning on staying overnight at Sheep Lake. At this point, veer left onto Nannie Ridge Trail, marked by a weathered wood sign indicating the Goat Rocks Wilderness and faded arrows for the connecting trails.
The trail starts uphill right away on a dirt path surrounded by tall pine trees. At about one half mile the trail crosses over a small bridge and depending on time of year, there may be shallow water over the trail. You can hear the sound of water flowing through the trees to your right as you continue up the hill. You will notice salal, ferns, trees covered in moss, beargrass and huckleberry bushes as far as the eye can see.
At about a mile from the trailhead you may see more water across the trail in some seasons. In late summer, these creek beds may be dry. Continue your upward climb as switchbacks ease the climb a bit. The huckleberries start creeping closer to the trail and during August, these bushes are overflowing with delicious purple berries that make a great snack along the trail as you look up and catch glimpses of the sky through the trees. Continuing on, you may see lupine, paintbrush and white rhododendron growing along the trail as well as purple asters and mountain bog gentian in late summer.
At 2.5 miles, you have gained 1,850 feet in elevation. At this point you are at the ridge crest just below Nannie Peak. Pause in the area to your right to catch your breath under the shade of the trees or you can continue to your left up an unmarked trail and add another half mile of uphill climb to Nannie Peak.
If your wish is to end the climb upward and continue on to gorgeous views of Mount Adams and Goat Rocks, continue just a few more steps forward on the trail and to your right, an exposed ledge with views await. This is a great place to pause before continuing on to Sheep Lake another 2 miles ahead.
From the view point, the trail continues along a slight downhill grade of loose rock and dirt and ash with exposed roots and becomes more open. A quarter mile from the viewpoint, the trail has been rerouted. The old trail is to the right and the new trail is now well worn to your left going uphill. About half mile later, you will arrive at a small pond surrounded by trees and grasses. Continue over rolling hills and along Nannie Ridge and enjoy the surrounding mountain views, tall trees and wildflowers to Sheep Lake.
Sheep Lake, at 4.6 miles, is a small alpine lake surrounded by wildflower meadows delighting the senses in the summer. Walk around the lake on the quaint dirt path. Established campsites surround the lake if this is an overnight destination.
Turn around the way you came or continue your adventure on to connecting the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) #2000.
WTA Pro Tip: Make it a loop by following the PCT right at the junction for just over 5 miles and return on the Walupt Lake Trail for another 4.6 miles for about 14.5 miles.