Lake 22 is a stellar hike. Possibly my favorite trail I’ve had the privilege to hike this fall. It combines all the elements of what I consider to be a “great hike”, and it’s a quick, one hour drive from the city. You’ll want to visit Lake 22 if you haven’t already.
Lake 22 Trail Review
- Hiked: late November
- Distance from Seattle: 1 hr 5 min
- Accessibility: Supremely easy. Trailhead is right off the highway.
- Length: 7 miles round trip
- Difficulty: 6/10
- Crowds: 3/10
- Trail views: 7/10
- Water features: 9/10
- Overall: 9/10
We arrived at the parking lot at around 9:15 am on a Sunday. The lot was almost entirely full. We ended up snagging the last “space”, which wasn’t really a space, but was right near the exit of the parking lot. Seriously, I don’t know where people who arrived after we did parked! The parking lot holds maybe 50-70 cars, and I’m willing to guess that it fills up quickly every weekend. I’d plan to arrive by 7:30 or 8 am next time I do this hike, to ensure ease of parking. There’s also a toilet (no flush style hole) in the parking lot, but as it’s off season, there is no trash services. You’ll need to pack out everything–and not just to the parking lot, back home with you.
The trail starts off with a mild ascent through the woods. You’ll cross several streams along the trail almost immediately. These streams are so beautiful; they’re one of the highlights of the trail, in my opinion. There are all of these gorgeous rocks you’ll be hopping on as you cross the water, so make sure you look down to appreciate the colors.
While the trail starts off near the highway, within 5-10 minutes of walking you’ll be out of ear shot of the road and into the forest. The first part of the trail is mainly wooded with the rocky water crossings. As you climb, you’ll come to the first wooden bridge across the river, and shortly thereafter, there is a beautiful waterfall. Be sure to stop and appreciate the waterfall on your way up!
Beyond the waterfall, a portion of the trail was wiped out due to a small landslide, so you’ll want to follow any signs indicating detours if needed. We joked that we were “off roading” as we made our way up through the muck on the temporary trail.
Another interesting feature of this hike is the number of wooden staircases throughout the trail.
As you climb up through the forest, you eventually reach a more open, meadow-like area where, if the weather is clear, you’ll get some stunning mountain views. The trail gets a little steeper as you continue. There are a lot of rocks and boulders at this point in the trail, so ankle high hiking boots are super helpful.
After passing the rocky meadow area, you’re almost to the lake! There are a few more stream-trail crossings and a boulder field. The trail became pretty icy and slick as we got within half a mile of the lake, and I was wishing I’d had some traction, but did okay with just my boots.
Then you get to the bridge, and you’re at the lake! You can walk around the wooden platform that goes along the shoreline, or simply appreciate the views near the bridge. We didn’t stay for too long at the lake itself, because when we stopped moving, we got really cold. The temperature near the lake was much chillier than the open mountain viewing area, so be prepared. We both put on our gloves and jackets at the waterside. The views of the lake are amazing. The mountains in the background look so imposing and stately. It almost reminded me of something out of the north in Game of Thrones. And if it hadn’t been so cold, we would have stayed a lot longer.
The lake was totally worth the hike. The crowds (and there are crowds) are worth it for how gorgeous this hike and the destination are. Don’t miss it!