During dinner with our friends last weekend, we started talking about upcoming plans and realized we all had a portion of the following weekend free. After some discussion, we decided we should meet up Saturday morning and go hiking!
They are way more experienced hikers than us so I was a little worried we would be holding them back, but it’s been a little while since we hit the trails and we really wanted to get out in this amazing fall weather.
We went back and forth about our plans all week, including which hike we wanted to do. Our friends spent some time on the Washington Trails Association website looking up hikes near us, and we considered Lake Twentytwo. Everything about the hike sounded great except all of the commentary about having to occasionally ford small rivers along the trail. I was a little concerned that I didn’t have the right gear for that amount of water work so I looked up several ideas as well.
One that was really near the hike they found looked similar but a little dryer so on Saturday morning our friends picked us up and we drove northeast about an hour to Granite Falls and the trail head for Heather Lake trail.
It turned out this hike had significant water on the trail as well–we were climbing up a mini waterfall at times due to all of the run off. So if you’re looking to avoid water, this might not be the hike for you!
Heather Lake is a 4.7-mile out and back trail that includes a loop around the lake. At 1,134-foot elevation gain, this is a very reasonable hike that gets your blood pumping but doesn’t feel unachievable. We completed the full hike in about three hours, with less than 30 minutes of resting time (according to Brian’s app).
There were a few cars in the lot when we arrived, and I was surprised to find some snow on the ground. It was cool outside but my silk, fleece and waterproof shell were sufficient for keeping me warm. We took a few photos and then set off up the trail at a pretty good pace. Before long I was warmed up and stripping off my hat, gloves and outer shell.
Amazing old growth trees were among the diversity of plantlife in this area of the Cascades and towered over the trail. Several giant stumps served as nursing grounds for younger trees that were a fair size themselves. The air was clear, there was very little wind, and we were able to navigate the plentiful roots, streams and stones as we made our way toward the lake.
Everything leveled off once we reached the top of the trail, and eventually we came to a fork in the path. We headed right, which began our loop around Heather Lake.
As we started down the right-hand path, we caught a glimpse through the trees of the lake and I literally squealed out loud. It was so beautiful! Light snow had started falling, everything was quiet, and fog was settling around the surrounding mountains. It was breathtaking!
We followed the boardwalk along the lake and stopped at a few view points to take pictures. We had only run into a few people during our time on the trail–all of them returning to the parking lot–so it felt as though we had the whole lake to ourselves.
We continued around the lake and eventually ran into a few other people who were also making the loop. It was nice that they had gone ahead of us, clearing a small trail through the snow. Once we were beyond the tree cover, the snow was about a foot high! We followed their trail at a slightly slower pace, stopping to look up and around at the snowy scene all around us.
About half way around we came to a part of the lake that wasn’t frozen over. The water was clear, and I could see some luminescent green plant-life on the bottom. I have no idea what it was and made sure I wasn’t the only one seeing it–it seemed so out-of-place and unearthly. I’ll have to ask around and do some research!
We continued along the boardwalk and eventually circled back around to the tree cover, completing the loop. We paused to rehydrate and then set forth on our descent. There were quite a few people hiking to the lake on our way down, and I was once again glad that we had set off early and finished our hike before we had to share the trail with too many other people.
I think we were all happy to warm up during the car ride back to our house where we enjoyed some of Brian’s famous homemade chili. What a way to start the weekend!
4 thoughts on “Washington Hikes: Heather Lake”
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