Minotaur Lake is a short, steep hike with big payoff

Want to get out for a hike and work up a sweat, but don’t have a lot of time? Have I got the hike for you.

I tested out Minotaur Lake off U.S. 2 this weekend. I’m really surprised I’d never heard of this hike before.

The trailhead is about 90 minutes from Everett and the hike is only 3.5 miles long. So, you can get an early start and be back home in plenty of time for an early dinner.

Don’t let the length of the trail fool you, though. This is a short trek, but it’s not easy.

From the trailhead, the trail immediately starts up. It’s a bit faint at the very start, but just head straight uphill. It will quickly become easy to follow as it climbs. There are very few switchbacks here. This trail just goes straight uphill. Right now, the ground is dry and the trail is a bit crumbly in a few spots. You will also have to navigate a few trees across the path. None of them present a major obstacle.

The trail will climb about 1,000 feet in less than a mile. That first mile is a boring hike. But don’t despair. It’s worth it. After about a mile, the trail levels off a bit and you wander through meadows of huckleberry. The berries we could find were delicious.

After 1.75 miles — it feels like longer, my guidebook promised, and it really does — you’ll reach the lake. The lake is set in a gorgeous bowl and you’ll find a number of excellent flat rocks to eat lunch on. I think the best lunch spots are on the west side of the lake (keep left as you reach it.)

The guidebook said to expect company, but we ate a leisurely lunch without seeing another soul. We eventually saw two other groups of hikers, but it certainly wasn’t crowded up there.

We took the chance to jump in for a quick swim after lunch. An osprey circled overhead while we swam.

Before you leave, be sure to check out the other side of the lake. A very short climb will give you an excellent view down to Theseus Lake.

The trip down will be faster than the way up, but your knees might complain a little. Go slow on some of the looser sections of trail; they can get slippery.

Directions

Follow U.S. 2 east four miles past the summit at Stevens Pass. When the highway divides, turn left immediately onto Smith Brook Road. This will put you on Forest Road 6700. Keep on this road. At about 5 miles, you will reach a fork on the road. Keep left at the fork, following the sign pointing toward Lake Wenatchee. At a total of 6.8 miles after leaving U.S. 2, turn left on Forest Road 6704. The road dead-ends at the trailhead after about a mile. You’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass for parking.

More in Life

How did 300 feathers get stuck in that old utility pole?

Artful adornment in Everett is the creation of a retired Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.

‘Found’: Author and climber a 20-year veteran of mountain rescue

In her second book, Bree Loewen shares her experiences of volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue.

Herb Alpert aims to uplift the world in two recent albums

The Tijuana Brass bandleader releases a Christmas record and an album of covers.

Prioritizing permanence and putting down roots

Adapted from a recent online discussion. Dear Carolyn: I’m at a loss… Continue reading

Foo Fighters bounce back with new album ‘Concrete and Gold’

Foo Fighters, “Concrete and Gold”: Can you hate the Foo Fighters? Not… Continue reading

How to shop in the street markets of France

It’s the best way to connect with the nation’s farmers and artisans.

Stock your winter bookshelf with these animal and nature reads

Four new books cover outdoors topics from butterflies to wolves.

Newfangled cooker isn’t for those with tried and true methods

Columnist Jennifer Bardsley recently succumbed to peer pressure and purchased an Instant Pot.

Now is the time to assess your student’s back-to-school plan

Take a good look at how your kids are managing their new routine, class, teacher(s) and homework.

Most Read