Save a sunny day for a hike to Heather Lake

  • By Ashley Stewart Herald Writer
  • Friday, October 12, 2012 1:59pm
  • Life

Heather Lake is a glacier-carved jewel nestled in the towering cedars beneath Mount Pilchuck’s steep northern ridges.

It’s easy to forget that the lake is just 30 miles outside Everett: After a gentle two-mile climb to the top of the trail, hikers are greeted with breathtaking views and crisp mountain air.

Heather Lake’s noticeable wildlife gives kids something to look forward to on the way up.

Cascades frogs swim in the shallows and small, round-eared animals called pikas can be heard, and sometimes seen, squeaking from their burrows.

The shores are circled with more than a half-mile of winding wooden walkways, leading the way for families to explore meadows filled with horse tails and giant boulders that create a perfect place for lunch.

This easy trail is a great warm-up for new hikers. It’s more than four miles round trip, though, so families with small children should consider child carrier backpacks.

Dogs are welcome on this popular hike, too, but keep them on leashes unless they go in the water, which is safe (but cold!) for swimming.

Forestry officials caution that the water may not be safe to drink without a filter, so hikers are encouraged to bring water bottles.

Heather Lake is an ideal fall hike. The changing colors create a beautiful backdrop for a family outing and the trail typically gets snow later than neighboring hikes, forestry officials said.

The road to the trailhead is accessible year-round, although hikers may need showshoes during the snowy months and should be wary of avalanches, especially near the lake’s southern shore.

Hikers should always be on the lookout for water and slippery rocks along the trail.

Contact a service center for trail conditions.

Northwest Forest Service passes are required for this hike and can be purchased online or at the Forest Service center in Verlot. Daily passes are $5, annual passes, $30.

Privies are available at the trailhead and near the lake.

Heather Lake

Trail No. 701, Mountain-Loop Highway, outside Granite Falls

Round trip: 4.6 miles

Kid-friendly; dog-friendly

Information and trail conditions: Verlot Public Service Center; 33515 Mountain Loop Highway, Granite Falls; 360-691-7791. Northwest Forest Service passes available at tinyurl.com/ForestPass.

Directions: Follow Mountain Loop Highway east from Granite Falls. After crossing the blue bridge, 1 mile past the Verlot Public Service Center, take the first right onto a gravel road marked “Mount Pilchuck Access.” Drive about 1 1/2 miles to the trailhead.

Ashley Stewart: 425-339-3037; astewart@heraldnet.com.

More in Life

Bob Jepperson’s Wild Love Story

A perfect circle of sounds, pictures and storytelling from the Anacortes author.

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globe nominations

“The Post” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” also collected a number of nominations.

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Three posh places to escape this winter in north Puget Sound

Whether it’s wine country, backcountry or the seashore, a relaxing retreat is close at hand.

Getting a glimpse of what’s coming as we age

Everett Public Library reading to help you understand the changes ahead in your elder years.

This author is throwing a virtual party for book lovers

Jennifer Bardsley is hosting a Facebook get-together for young-adult book authors and readers.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Taylor Johnston waters a philodendron at her home on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Three guidebooks to help the novice houseplant gardener

Indoor plants are popular again — and we’re not talking about your grandma’s African violets.

Bustling Dublin offers big-city sights and Irish charm

The dynamic city has a great story to tell, and people who excel at telling it.

Most Read