The day after Thanksgiving, we took off for a post-Turkey Trek (can we make that a thing, in addition to the Turkey Trot?) Talapus Lake was my selection for the day. Frozen or partially frozen lakes are so beautiful, that I almost feel like these types of hikes are more spectacular in the winter than they are in the summer. We’ll have to wait and see when we revisit some of these places next July!
Talapus Lake Trail Review
- Hiked: late November
- Distance from Seattle: 1 hr
- Accessibility: a few miles of rough, dirt road to the trailhead.
- Length: 3.4 miles roundtrip
- Difficulty: 5/10
- Crowds: 3/10
- Trail views: 4/10
- Water features: 7/10
- Overall: 7/10
Other trail notes: The area requires a Northwest Forest Pass. There isn’t a lot of parking at the dirt lot, so come prepared to park along the side of the road. This trail would be what I consider an “easy” trail if it weren’t for the snow, which made it more of a moderate difficulty to me.
The trail starts in the mud and climbs gently up through some switchbacks in the forest. You’ll reach an opening in the trees at a boulder field, which was snow-covered, and continue climbing up into snow.
What starts out as some slush on the trail and ice in the surrounding area eventually becomes harder, packed snow on the trail itself. While I did this hike without spikes, I wish I had some (mostly on the way down). It got pretty slippery up near the top!
As you approach the lake, there are little “bridges” to cross. The first is the only big one. We were a little nervous bringing our dog across this bridge since it was covered in snow/ice, so we just carried her. There were plenty of other pups on the trail too, who probably weren’t carried over the bridge–we just like to be cautious with ours! There are many more “bridges” that are basically logs over small streams beneath the trail, and they were all completely covered in packed snow. All the little waterways up near the lake crossing the trail were so pretty.
The lake itself was mostly frozen over, a sight that is still so amazing to me. There was even a bit of sunshine on part of the mountains in the distance. As we stopped to take in the views, I attempted to eat my PB sandwich. Another hiker had told us about the boldness of the grey jays, who apparently steal hikers’ food on a regular basis, so I kept my sandwich in the bag as I took a bite. And good thing I did, because a jay swooped down a mere inches from my face in an attempt to seize my sandwich right out of my mouth! The nerve! I decided I’d wait to eat until returning to the car after that.
There were a lot of hikers on this trail as well. It seems like a popular place, probably because of the proximity to Seattle, the short distance of the trail, and the lake view payoff. While you can continue onwards from Talapus Lake to Ollalie Lake and do a two-for-one type of hike, we decided to just stick with Talapus because we got a later start and wanted a more relaxed day. I’m sure we will return in the spring or summer to do both lakes together.
Also, if it weren’t for the snow making the trail a bit trickier to navigate, this would be a really nice easy hike (probably a 2 or 3/10 instead of a 5/10 on the difficulty scale). Even still, not having snow traction, we completed the hike in just a couple of hours. It’s definitely doable as a morning or afternoon excursion; you don’t need all day.
All in all, it was a fantastic little excursion for our family!