Washington August 28, 2016
This Just Might Be The Most Beautiful Hike In All Of Washington
Calling something Washington’s most beautiful hike is saying a lot. We’re surrounded by so much natural beauty here, each trail offering so many different sights to discover. But there’s truly something incredible about the Lake 22 Trail, a 6.7-mile loop you’ll never forget.
You’ll find the Lake 22 Trail near Granite Falls on the beautiful Mountain Loop Highway. The origin of the name (which is sometimes spelled Lake Twentytwo) is uncertain, but the common theory is that 19th century railroad maps listed local bodies of water numerically, and the name stuck. The lake is part of an alpine wetland nestled on the shoulder of Mount Pilchuck.
The hiking trail takes you through some of the best natural scenery the state has to offer: Mountain rainforests, wetlands, old growth forest and spectacular mountain views are all part of the journey. Despite its length, it’s a fairly easy trail and very accessible until it closes for the winter in November.
This hike can get damp, so plan your footwear accordingly (good hiking boots are best). The trail starts out flat from the parking lot, giving you an easy start before the 0.6 mile mark bridge takes you over Lake 22 Creek. There are several waterfalls in this area, so you’ll want to stop and enjoy the view.
About 1.5 miles into the hike, you’ll leave the old growth and start a climb up a slope. On a clear day you’ll be able to see the surrounding mountains well. Eventually, you’ll re-enter the forest.
The final climb to Lake 22 can be wet, so be prepared to get a little muddy. But when the trail pops out at the lake, it will all be worth it. Not only will you have a gorgeous water view, you’ll have the north face of Mount Pilchuck towering over you.
The loop takes you around the lake, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the view or to stop and sit down to enjoy a snack and some water. The trail was once recommended for experienced hikers only, but it has since been updated and made a little easier to navigate. There’s a nice boardwalk surrounding the lake now. Still, it does have some rough terrain at times, so you may want to wait until you’ve hiked a few beginner trails before you attempt it.
Have you hiked the Lake 22 Trail? It’s definitely one of Washington’s finest. And if you don’t have an entire day to devote to a hike, you can try one of these shorter hikes.