Seconds after pulling off of Mountain Loop Highway at the Lake Twenty-Two sign, you’ve arrived at the trailhead to this roughly 3 hour, mid-level hike. Plenty of parking spaces show just how popular this hike can be on a warm summer day. However, in the winter, this trail offers enchanting snow scenes without the large crowds.
This 5.4-mile round trip hike offers many different terrains including old growth forest, mountain rainforest, and wetlands, which will thoroughly capture your attention until you reach the lake.
Multiple creek crossings in the lower portion of the forest, along with many small waterfalls, create a fairly wet trail but as you can imagine, allow for lush greenery to flourish. The cedars and hemlocks of the old growth forest are covered in ferns and moss that really showcase what is so beautiful about the Pacific Northwest. If you hit the trail early enough, the fog allows for magical scenes throughout the entire route, as the mist snakes through the giant trees.
At the end of the 2.7-mile trail, the gorgeous Lake Twenty-Two is revealed with the background that is the northern face of Mount Pilchuck. To the left, a well maintained wooden trail goes a quarter of the way around the lake allowing for multiple viewpoints. If you choose to venture to the right, there are unofficial trails that can be explored as well. It is not recommended to try and circumvent the lake because the rock fields are often tricky to maneuver.
Coming from Seattle, you can expect to dedicate only half a day to this out-and-back trail that will leave you begging for more. The accessibility of this hike makes it great for someone wanting a fairly even difficulty-to-view ratio without having to worry about finishing the route.
Suitable for even the most off-the-couch hiker, and also rewarding for experienced outdoorsmen and women, this hike will definitely not disappoint.