Last Sunday I went to Lake 22 with the Over 40 Outdoor Adventurers. It was a beautiful sunny day, which made this scenic hike even better. This is one of those hikes that is extremely popular. I recommend an early start at the trailhead to avoid some of the crowds. Also, this trailhead is notorious for car break-ins. Leave NOTHING visible in your car. I have done this trail during different times of the year, but I think my favorite time to go is in the late spring. There is so much water on the trail…beautiful…and some snow which adds a bit of fun.
Here are the stats: 5.4 miles round trip, 1300 feet elevation gain, high point 2400 feet.
Region: North Cascades, Mountain Loop Hwy
Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass.
This trail sets out through the mossy forest and after a short distance you start the gradual incline up to the lake. Take time to marvel in the huge old growth trees along the way as well as the many little creeks (especially early in the season). To see one of the waterfalls below you have to look for a little side trail. It was impressive and worth the trip.
There were a few obstacles on the forested part of the trail, the hardest of which to cross was a big root-ball. There was one small area that was pretty eroded, looked like a little slide that took some patient footing as well, and then of course the snow at the top.
The first half of the trail is through the mossy forest and under tree cover. After 1.5 miles, the trail opens up and you climb a talus slope. The talus is a little tricky with footing, and can be slippery. I highly recommend boots for this trail. There were many people wearing tennis shoes, but I think you would be happier and more comfortable with appropriate hiking footwear. The view from the talus slope on a clear day is amazing, so don’t forget to look up. I believe the snowy peaks across the way is Whitehorse Mountain and Three Fingers (according to WTA).
I spotted a few trillium along the way and some pretty little yellow flowers, but I think it is too early for most wild flowers. There was also some skunk cabbage starting to come up at various points on the trail.
You eventually get off the talus slope and back into the trees. On our outing, soon after entering the forest again we started spotting a little snow…then a lot of snow. Boots, poles and micro-spikes or another traction device will all make passing this section easier.
Then you reach the lake. There were some folks walking out on the frozen part of the lake but this is something I wouldn’t recommend. You never know how thick/strong the ice is, and it isn’t worth risking your life if you break through. Later in the summer you can walk completely around the lake. This is also something that would be very stupid to try right now as there are several avalanche chutes with snow ready to come down. With the amount of water melting beneath them, it would be very dangerous. It is such a pretty lake…a Tarn even. It was great having a sunny day to enjoy it! It is really a nice hike, and it is no wonder why it is so popular.