Less than an hour’s drive from Bellevue is a trail that meanders through a forest of cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir along the banks of the Greenwater River, where water cascades over moss-covered boulders and swirls in deep blue-green pools.
This easy, family- and dog-friendly hike has a little bit of everything: a roaring river, fishable lakes, and even a secret waterfall. With very little elevation gain, it is the perfect trip for first-time hikers as well as experienced trekkers looking for their first overnight backpack experience.
The well-maintained path traverses the river over several well-constructed bridges. About 1/4 mile in, a small trail cuts off to the right and leads to a secret waterfall. Soon after this, the trail enters an old-growth forest. Depending on the time of year, wildflowers, berries, or mushrooms grace the forest floor, scattered among the ferns.
The first of the two lakes is a bit over a mile and a half from the trailhead, just after one of the many bridge crossings. There are several campsites around and near the lake. The trail climbs from here and opens up to the second, larger lake. Bring your license and fishing pole, as both lakes are home to several species of trout.
The upper lake will be your turnaround point for an easy day hike. Depending on trail conditions and snow level, you can continue on the trail as it leaves the river and enters the Norse Peaks Wilderness, climbing steeply. At mile 3.2, there is a trail junction that heads to Lost Lake and Noble Knob, or continue on the Greenwater Lakes Trail to Echo Lake and Arch Rock. Many more trails connect in this area, and you can plan a one-way hike by leaving a vehicle at Corral Pass.
This area is rich in wildlife, and you may see deer, elk, or black bears, as well as feisty chipmunks and raucous gray jays. There is parking at the trailhead for horse trailers and clearly marked fords for crossing the rivers on horseback. Be sure to check road conditions in winter and trail conditions in early spring, as swollen rivers and winter storms can bring down large trees and wash out bridges.
After your hike, you can stop at Wapiti Woolies in the town of Greenwater for coffee, hot chocolate, or huckleberry ice cream, or go across the road to the Naches Tavern for a burger.
Good to Know
4 miles round-trip
Green Trails Lester No. 239
Dogs are allowed on leash.
Pass required: Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful pass required to park at trailhead
How to get there
From Bellevue, take 405 south to Highway 169 to Enumclaw. Turn left onto SR 410, and drive about 20 miles through the town of Greenwater, past the fire station, to FR 70 on the left. Follow FR 70 a little over 9 miles to FR 7033. Take a right, and follow the road to the trailhead.