Heather Lake

After 11 miles and 4000' of gain on Saturday I was looking for a short drive and easy hike not on I-90. Heather Lake fit the bill. I expected a crowd but with a reasonably early start on a Sunday I managed to miss the majority of the hikers. I drove up the Mountain Loop Highway for the second day in a row and turned off on the Mt. Pilchuck Road. A few miles later I was at the trailhead. Only 4 or 5 cars in the lot. In 29 years of hiking I had only been to Heather Lake 2 or 3 times. It is only 2 miles to the lake and another 6/10th of a mile around. Too short for a full day hike. I did it once after Mt. Pilchuck and once after the Lime Kiln trail. This day the lake would be the only destination. It was going to be very hot and a short easy hike in forest to a lake sounded good.

I was on the trail by 9:15 am. The route has had extensive work done on the lower sections. At least since my last visit. I set a steady pace until the many steps in the second half of the trail. That slowed me down. Even with the roots and rocks and steps I reached the lake in 53 minutes. The lake is 1100' above the trailhead. There are some ups and downs that add a few hundred feet of gain. I planned to make two loops around the lake to get up to 5 1/4 miles total. I went to the right heading counter clockwise. The bugs were not as bad as I expected. There were some but not enough to even consider bug spray. I passed a tent  and stopped at the big rock on the lake side of the trail. Climbing up provides a great view of the lake.

I was surprised to see a canoe. No people around just the canoe. There is still some snow behind the lake. Some of it may survive right up to when the snow flies again. Hard to imagine at an elevation of only 2500'. I was in the sunshine but the back of the lake was in shadows all day. The steep wall behind the lake blocks all sun this time of year. The shade was much appreciated as the day became hotter. After a nice break I continued the loop. I found flowers in bloom at the back of the lake. Once again I found blooming tiger lilies. The boardwalk is broken in a few places but there are no gaps. It is still easy to walk. At the end of the loop I turned around and made the second loop clockwise. There must have been some bugs because I could see fish jumping out of the water on a consistent basis.

On lap two I again stopped at the big rock. A great place to lay back and go to sleep. Well, I did manage to stay awake. I spent two hours at the lake and headed down just after 12:00 pm. For fun I counted the hikers coming up as I went down. It took me 47 minutes to reach the car and I passed 69 folks coming up. There were two more groups totalling 14 hikers who started up soon after I reached the trailhead. Not quite Mt. Si numbers but considering the smaller parking lot that was impressive. I was not unhappy to have the lake almost to myself in the morning. I was home early after a very nice easy hike.

Big Stump
Big Tree
Heather Island?
Snow Still At Lake
Shady Inlet
Very Green
Steep Wall
Really Green
On The Boardwalk
Tiger Lilies
Another Island
Time To Head Down
Heather Panorama
Hazy Panorama
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2011