The greatest reward during a hot hike is to take a cool dip at your destination. With all the alpine lakes scattered around this region it’s not hard to find a trail that leads to crystal blue water. Here are a few standouts.
A Stairmaster in the wilderness
The trail to Lake Serene is a climb. With an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet, hikers have to huff it up a ton of stairs, but the top is spectacular. In winter months the lake is frozen over. In summer it’s a glossy bluish-green. Swimmers don’t wade there for long, though. The water is numbingly cold. If the challenge to Lake Serene sounds too daunting, hike about 1.5 miles in and veer right for beautiful Bridal Veil Falls instead.
Perfect for a family adventure
Barclay Lake is a great hike for kids getting used to the outdoors. The elevation gain is under 500 feet and while the trail goes up- and downhill, there’s nothing too difficult for a little explorer to handle. The lake also has shallow parts for kids
to wade into or swim around in. The rocky peaks of Baring Mountain are high above.
A stroll through the scenery
Ira Spring Trail, leading to Mason Lake, is an enchanting path through forests, along open meadows, and above the tree line. The view of Mount Rainier in the distance is another treat. By the time hikers start their final decent down to Mason Lake, they’ve already seen a lot. Once on shore, unlace your hiking boots and at least put your toes in the icy blue water.
Water features everywhere
Water is all around on your way to Annette Lake. A couple of minutes on the trail and you’ll hit Humpback Creek. Water crossings and waterfalls are typical on this hike so stop and enjoy them. At the lake, notice the waterfall cascading down into its blue base. The hike to Annette Lake is relatively easy — elevation gain is about 1,400 feet.
More than just a number
Tucked away in the north shoulder of Mount Pilchuck, the trail to Lake Twentytwo weaves through rainforests toward mountain views. In the winter, it’s a good spot for snowshoeing. As far as the name, the theory is that in the 19th century, railroad maps listed creeks by number. A creek and its source lake were dubbed “22” and the name stuck.
A pleasant alpine hike
With beautiful views and access to Rampart Lake, Lila Lake, and Alta Peak, the hike to Rachel Lake can get busy in the summer, so you’ll have some fellow adventurers on the trail. The hike to Rachel Lake is only 30 minutes away from busy I-90, but it feels like a whole other peaceful world.
Out of this world
The Enchantments, an area encompassing breathtaking alpine lakes sunken into the Cascade Range, is considered by many the crème de la crème of hikes in the Northwest. It’s also no joke. Experienced backpackers climb thousands of feet to jump into these magnificent lakes. Overnight visitors must enter a lottery for a chance to win a limited entry permit for trips planned between May 15 and October 31.