First time doing the Lindsay Lake Loop, good workout and lots of variation of terrain and trail conditions. We started from the Halvor Lunden trailhead near South Beach parking lot, and for the first kilometer or so the trail climbs moderately. After that, expect a good cardio workout up to El Paso Junction. The good news is that this leg of the trail is in excellent condition.
Once we reached El Paso, we headed left (west) towards Barton Point and Little Valhalla. Unfortunately, the expected views were absent due to heavy fog. Between Little Valhalla and Jessica Lake, the trail is in pretty good shape with expected overgrowth in sections and some blowdown. Between Jessica Lake and the Lindsay Junction, the trail degrades considerably with lots of blowdown, obstructions, overgrowth, and slippery sections.
Once we arrived at the Lindsay Junction, we briefly debated whether to head back via the Lower Lakes route to El Paso or to push on to Mount Beautiful and Swan Falls beyond. Pretty much a no brainer - doesn't everyone want to summit?
From Lindsay Junction, we quickly encountered snow but it was all hard pack and easy to follow thanks to the footprints of previous hikers. We did have a few moments of doubt, but the trail markers and flags are placed at regular intervals that quickly point you in the right direction if you are paying attention. As first time hikers of this trail, we had doubts at times, after Dead Tree pass, whether we had lost the trail due to the combination of snow covering, blowdown, washout, and unexpected descents.
Our faith was restored when we arrived at TT Top, which was pretty much covered in hard pack snow. From TT Top to the summit is another steep section, but thankfully the snow covering wasn't consistent on the exposed west facing sections. After a brief stop at the summit for a high five and a couple of pictures (fog was still like pea soup), we started to descend and not far from the summit we encountered a section where the snow steeply drops off into an icy creek right in the middle trail. That section is very slippery and guaranteed to soak your feet. From there to Swan Falls junction was pretty uneventful, although once again you need to pay attention to the trail markers. Once the snow ended, we made good progress on the steep descent to Swan Falls which is narrow and slippery in section but otherwise in good condition. On this section, we finally caught our first view of Buntzen and Indian arm in the distance.
Once we reached the road, we decided not to bother with the lakeside trail and powered our way along the road back to our car. Total time was about 8 hours, despite being slowed down by the snow and blowdown.
This trail is fun and a good workout, can't wait to try it again on a sunny day as I suspect the views are well worth the effort :-)