Hiking is one of my favorite things to do when I have a free day, and my favorite type of hikes are the ones that lead to a beautiful mountain lake. Listed below are five of my favorite lake hikes located throughout the Cascade mountains.
1. Heather Lake - North Cascades
Distance: 4.6 Miles, roundtrip
Heather Lake is one of my all time favorite hikes. It is always the hike I take my friends to when they are visiting my area. Relatively short, this hike is great for almost all types of hikers. On hot days, take a dip in the shallow, icy water to cool down.
From Washington Trails Association: " After you've explored a few easy, flat trails with your little one, the Heather Lake trail makes a wonderful next step. With just a bit more elevation gain, and slightly more rugged terrain, it's the perfect place to take children on their first ‘real’ hike. The trail is short, but steep and challenging--it'll give a child a real sense of accomplishment once they reach the lake.. The lake itself is a scenic little lake located on the northeastern slope of Mount Pilchuck."
2. Lake 22 - North Cascades
Distance: 5.4 Miles, roundtrip
Similar to Heather Lake, this trail gives a good workout but is still good for beginning hikers. Also located at the base of mountains, Lake 22 is absolutely gorgeous and gives the greatest sense of accomplishment when you reach the clearing. Also a great place to swim when the temperatures reach 80 plus.
From Washington Trails Association: "The curiously-named Lake Twentytwo is the center of an oasis of alpine wetland nestled on the northern shoulder of Mount Pilchuck. The hike to the lake combines the best of mountain rainforests, old-growth, wetlands, and mountain views, yet it is readily accessible."
3. Lake Serene - Central Cascades
Distance: 8.2 Miles, roundtrip
This is the longest hike on my list, however, it's a two for one. Not only do you get to enjoy the beauty of the blue waters at Lake Serene, but enjoy a stop at Bridal Veil Falls only about 2 miles into the hike. If you choose to skip the falls, the hike becomes about 7 miles roundtrip. This hike is also located off of highway 2 and may be a bit closer of a drive for those based near Seattle.
From Washington Trails Association: "Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls compete for attention on this trail. Either would be a worthy destination by themselves and combined they are a great day on the trail... Keep your eyes open for patches of bunchberry and other shade-loving flowers, especially as you leave the dense forest for the sun-dappled traverse to the ridge."
4. Annette Lake - Snoqualmie Region
Distance: 7.5 Miles, roundtrip
Annette Lake is a great place when in need of some peace and quiet, the clear yet blue waters and the stillness of the lake is great for anyone needing to reset from a long week.
From Washington Trails Association: "Waterfalls, wildflowers, sheltering forests, mountain views and an alpine lake are offered on this well-maintained trail. At the lake, enjoy the sights and relax for a while."
5. Snow Lake - Snoqualmie Region
Distance: 7.2 Miles, roundtrip
100%, my absolute all time favorite hike. I have done this hike countless numbers of times and every time I get to the view I am blown away. Not only is the view from the boulder overlooking the lake amazing, but the views from the lake level are fantastic. If you are up for a challenge, you can continue hiking around the lake and see views from other angles and even continue onto Gem Lake. The one downside to this hike is that it is fairly popular and can be crowded on weekends. Because of this, you may notice that the birds and chipmunks are very friendly and may try and ask for a snack.
From Washington Trails Association: "If you believe that good things only come to those who toil and sweat (or if you don’t like to share the outdoors with other hikers), steer clear of Snow Lake. Its translucent depths, tucked underneath the uppermost 2,000 feet of Chair Peak, are removed from the highway crossing Snoqualmie Pass by just a short trail with minimal elevation gain. Elitists need not apply – Snow Lake is the most visited lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness…and rightly so."
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