Melakwa - Pratt Loop

Suzanne, Bob, and Kolleen joined me for this close in loop hike. After crunching my knees to the tune of almost 100,000' of elevation gain and loss the previous 3 months I was ready for a nicely graded trail. The elevation gain for this hike was 3200' but spread over 13 1/2 miles it was never steep. As an added bonus, Sadie the golden retriever would have four lakes to swim in. We met at the Pratt Lake/Granite Mountain trailhead at 8:30 am. We squeezed into Suzanne's Highlander for the short drive to the Melakwa Lake trailhead. By 8:50 we were on the trail. Going counterclockwise has a few hundred less feet of gain and allows for ascending the rockier trail. The Pratt trail is much smoother for the descent. It was cool but comfortable in short sleeves and shorts.

We made good time up the trail. Suzanne made sure of that. Though there were a few cars in the lot we did not see anyone on the way to Hemlock Pass. Most leaves are past their peak but there was still some good color to be enjoyed. Keekwulee Falls still has some water but not much. Just beyond the pass we met a hiker coming down after a night at the upper lake. He said the pikas kept him up most of the night with there calls.

We reached Melakwa at 4 1/2 miles in well under two hours. Bob and Kolleen had not been to the upper lake so we took the short path on over. We had considered doing the Melakwa - Snow Lake loop but looking at all the rock up to Melakwa Pass my knees were glad we chose this loop instead. We enjoyed a short stay at the lake and headed on. The turn off to Tuscohatchie Lake was well marked. I was interested to see if this seldom hiked trail had seen any maintenance this year. In fact, it is in great shape. Not only were all the logs cut but there has been some brushing done in the last few years. Only a few mud patches marred a very nice trail.

The route to Tuscohatchie is almost all downhill. There was some color along here as well. Even the yellowing devils club looked good. It did not take long to hike the roughly 3 miles to Tuscohatchie. We arrived at the lake and hiked on over to the logs near the outlet. This was a great place for lunch. We had nice views up to Kaleetan and Chair Peaks. Sadie made this the third lake she dove into. As we sat several groups arrived via Pratt Lake. I was surprised to see people this far up the trail in October.

The short hike over to Pratt Lake went very fast. We dropped down to the outlet for a view of the lake. Of course Sadie went for another swim. The trail along Pratt Lake has also been brushed out. One could hike the whole loop on a rainy day or dewy morning and not get soaked by the brush along the trail. At the end of the lake we began the final climb of the day. I noticed the old abandoned Pratt Trail but we did not have the time or energy to go exploring. The new trail is very gentle as it climbs up to the ridge above.

We passed another group along here. Once at the ridge top it was all downhill to the car. The last four miles is gentle as it drops 2400'. I expected to see many people in the last few miles but we actually saw few. The parking lot was nearly full with more cars parked along the entrance road. Based on the few people we saw on the Pratt Trail I bet it was crowed on Granite Mountain.

I stayed with Sadie in the lot while the others went back to get Suzanne's car. While we waited a paraglider circled just above the lot. He must have landed in the adjacent DOT lot. With tall trees on either side and a small area it would be a tricky landing. My wait was short and before long they returned and we were on our way home. This is a nice loop offering good trail, four lakes, and plenty of distance and elevation gain. It also is a short drive from Seattle. It has been about a dozen years since my only other time around the loop. It was a nice way to spend the day and get back to town early.