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Hiking Lake 22 Trail -- Mountain Loop Highway


Lake Twenty Two Trail Sign
Onward to Lake 22! I can't believe we've done 21 lakes so far! Just kidding, who's counting anyway. You can spend the entire 6 mile out-and-back hike wondering what the 22 means, or I can just tell you!

Lake 22 Research Natural Area
You are entering the Lake 22 Research Natural Area (RNA)!


Why is it called Lake 22?

"The exact story behind the unique name of Lake 22 remains shrouded in mystery. A popular hypothesis suggests that in the 19th century, railroad cartographers used numbers to identify creeks and their originating lakes in the region. It is believed that the lake and its feeding creek were designated as number 22 on these maps, leading to the name Lake 22". Sounds believable enough. After awhile in an area like Washington you can't just name every beautiful thing you see with something unique. You'd run out of brain space.


Boardwalk -- Lake 22 Trail

Lake 22 Hiking 

The Lake 22 Trail is right off of the Mountain Loop Highway outside of Verlot, WA and takes you to a beautiful alpine lake setting. It is literally right down the road from the Heather Lake trailhead. As such,  both trails, Lake 22 and Heather Lake, offer similar hikes in very similar terrain and sights. 


Lake 22 Trail -- Wet Rocks
Weeping Wet Rocks -- You gotta walk over these dudes!

 I do think I enjoyed the Lake 22 Trail just a bit more though. It's a 6 mile out-and-back hike and just under 1500 feet in elevation gain. It might be every so slightly more challenging than Heather Lake Trail but not by much in my opinion. The lake itself is slightly bigger than Heather Lake as well. 

Lake 22 Trail - Streams
More Streams to Cross!


The trailhead isn't far from the Mountain Loop Highway, in fact the parking area is right off of it in a big parking circle. Parking in the circle was full so we had to park on the side of the entrance way near the road. Not ideal, but not illegal either. Remember kids, get to the trailhead early to avoid people!


Trees Growing Out of A Stump -- Lake Twenty Two Trail

The hike starts off beautiful with the near immediate introduction of thick forest, old growth mixed with newer growth, just living it up. Plenty of cut stumps with new trees growing right out of the stump! Life uh...finds a way. 


Lake Twenty Two Creek
The trail winds around the forest and eventually you hit a bridge to cross Twenty Two Creek (get it now?). Every wind taking you a bit higher in elevation to that sweet sweet alpine lake. There are built in wooden ladders every now and then to help you ascend. I assume this is for erosion control? 

Lake Twenty Two Trail Foggy
It's opening up a bit, but man it's really foggy in this spot!


After awhile the trail opens up to the outside world and becomes a bit more rocky to walk on as well. Here you can start to see some cool mountain views. If you're lucky you can stumble upon sights, sounds, and views of Hundred Step Falls and Apron Falls as well!

Lake 22 -- Mountain Views
The fog is lifting! The mountains are showing on the trail! Look at those autumn tree colors!


The trail is also known for its diverse plant life, including ferns, mosses, and wildflowers, particularly in the spring and summer months.

Lake 22 -- Mount Pilchuck
We made it! Lake 22 and Mt. Pilchuck! What a beautiful day for it.

 Eventually you get to the lake, which you can choose to walk around or simply sit and take in the view. Much like Heather Lake, you will immediately  notice the imposing sights of Mount Pilchuck taking up the background. 

Lake 22
This is the view from the bridge at the lake, facing away from the lake and Pilchuck

There was still some snow here! It certainly doesn't look like fresh snow, and I don't believe it snowed yet in mid-October in this area. Pretty cool!

Around Lake 22
Fog is rolling in again. Here is the trail walking around the lake. As you traverse the lake and get closer to Mt. Pilchuck you encounter a boulder field, much like at Heather Lake

Boulder Field Rocks at Lake 22
Lake 22 Rocks! I told you!

Fall Colors at Lake 22
Who said you have to travel all the way to the North Cascades National Park for fall colors? Lake 22 has it all!

Lake 22 Trail Washington
The trail around the lake continues through the rocks. What a day.

Autumn Paradise at Lake 22
Walking over jagged rocks with some insane fall colors. Way to go Washington!

Lake 22 Trail
Bonus picture because this is such a great trail. An old downed timber in the creek. This is right before spilling out into the lake bowl.

Caterpillar Lake 22
Ah heck, why not another. Here's a little caterpillar friend found skirting along the wooden bridge at the beginning of the lake, We sat with him and watched a golden retriever goofily play in the lake. Yes, dogs are allowed on the trail.


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