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Hiking Heather Lake Trail -- Washington

Heather Lake Trailhead Information Paper
Trail information at the Trailhead. 2.1 miles one way. "More difficult" rating. Not sure I agree but hey.

Tucked neatly into the Cascades of Washington State outside Granite Falls, near Verlot, on the Mountain Loop Highway, Heather Lake offers hikers a scenic destination and a pleasant moderately challenging say hike! The drive in from Seattle following the Mountain Loop Highway, which you catch in Granite Falls, is lovely. The next road...National Forest Road 4220 (NF-4220) is not. Cars beware, this is a really rough road to the trailhead. That being said...we did just fine in our hybrid Honda Accord 😆I did make it cross country for our PA-WA road-trip move, ya know! There is also a bathroom at the trailhead so I'm already in love.

Slippery wet rocks on Heather Lake Trail
Slippery wet rocks to walk along on the trail. Wear good footwear!

Starting from the trailhead, the 4.6-mile round trip unveils the diverse landscapes of the region. This was the perfect hike to kick off the beginning of October and the beginning of the autumnal changes happening in the PNW. When we started the hike it was roughly 50 degrees on a late Sunday morning. The trailhead was already packed with cars and we simply got lucky in finding a spot!

Puddles on the Heather Lake Trail

Good climb up the rocks on Heather Lake Trail
Get both hands ready. Gotta scramble up this wet rock face! I banged by water bottle off the rocks. Goodbye bears!

As you navigate the well-trodden paths, you'll encounter a mix of old-growth and second-growth forests as well as newly sprouted greenery. Massive, moss-covered rocks and boulders punctuate the trail, testament to the region's rich geological history. Many of these ancient stones, shaped by time and elements, serve as resting spots or even makeshift photo ops for travelers. I won't say that I didn't climb up on some. Rocks are the one thing that I will walk over and on, never vegetation though!

Fungi on a Log -- Heather Lake Trail
Mushrooms on a Log. I'm not sure what kind they are. Maybe I should get into mycology now too.

Upon reaching Heather Lake, the real magic unveils itself. The pristine waters perfectly mirror the surrounding landscapes, from the dense tree lines to the almost haunting escarpment of Mount Pilchuck and it's presence abutting against the lake. The lake's shores are rocky and rugged, a testament to the glacial history that sculpted this basin.
Heather Lake in the Fall
Fall Colors are starting at Heather Lake Trail -- VIBRANT!

 In fact, there's an extra 0.7 miles or so you can walk. It takes you along the perimeter of the lake to get some different vantage points, and get closer to Mount Pilchuck. If you do follow the trail around the lake, around halfway through there's a boulder field that if you were so inclined, you might climb around and have some fun with it.

Heather Lake Washington
Just beautiful! Look at the sun in the background the darkness in the foreground. Thanks Mt Pilchuck!

heather Lake reflections
Incredible reflections on Heather Lake
Near the boulder field around around the lake loop. Look at the colors of that water!

 Any fish in that water? Yes! Fishing isn't super common, but you can definitely fish in Heather Lake and find things like Rainbow Trout. I'd rather toss my shirt and swim during one of the uncommon 90 degree days Washington has been having.
More views from the Boulder Field area which a huge dark shadow of darkness created by Mt Pilchuck

Mt Pilchuck face and landscape
What a landscape. Thanks Mt Pilchuck!

All in all, Heather Lake isn't just a destination; it's an experience. A journey through time, nature, and the undying spirit of the Cascades. If you're in Washington, it's a trek that should undoubtedly be on your list. It's a less popular hike than Lake 22 which is right down the road. Both hikes are very similar. Maybe I shouldn't be telling you this... I wouldn't want it to get just as crowded too. 

Heather Lake - Lake 22 - Pilchuck map
Look at how close the two are. You get almost the same hike! And Mt Pilchuck!

After our hike we drove back into town on our way back to Seattle. Which town? Snohomish! We tried our hands at Audacity Brewing. They had a great rating and we were in the it goes.


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