The Sullivan Lake Trail Is The Most Underrated Fall Hike in Washington
Autumn is a beautiful season for hiking in the Pacific Northwest, and Washington is full of
breathtaking trails that show off its fall foliage. But while many head to the Cascades or Mount Rainier National Park to hike, one of the best fall trails is located in Eastern Washington… way east, as a matter of fact. If you’ve never explored Sullivan Lake, make this the autumn you do.
Sullivan Lake is located near Metaline Falls in the Colville National Forest.
In fact, this is the largest natural lake in the forest.
The Sullivan Lake Trail is over eight miles in length (round trip), but it's not extraordinarily difficult.
Quite a bit of the trail parallels the shore of the lake, and every bit of it is beautiful.
Begin your hike at the East Sullivan Campground at the north end of the lake
After taking a short path through aspen trees to a junction, which leads to the Sullivan Nature Trail. But instead of taking that trail, head right and walk uphill through the mossy forest.
Eventually, you'll get your first glimpse of Sullivan Lake. The trail takes you on a quick descent until you're right at the shoreline.
This is a fantastic spot to be in any season, but from late September to early November, the fall colors are breathtaking.
The aspen and Western larch trees are what makes this area so stunning in the autumn.
Western larch is the only species of larch that's spotted almost exclusively in the inland Northwest, and their needles turn lovely shades of yellow and gold.
As breathtaking as the scenery is, you'll want to keep an eye out for wildlife on this trail.
Wolves have been spotted here in recent years, and one of the largest bighorn sheep herds tends to stick to this area.
Eventually, you'll leave the lake and cross Noisy Creek before climbing another bluff, dropping down to Noisy Creek Campground.
Then you'll return to your starting point following the same route, enjoying the colorful trees once again.
If you’ll be in Eastern Washington this fall, challenge yourself with this gorgeous hike. And if you’re short on time, check out one of
these short and sweet trails instead.
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