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

Take a closer look: Winter gardens share gifts in subtle way

Go on a neighborhood walk this month to enjoy the seasonal beauty offered by a variety of gardens.

Shopping cart showdown: Which stores have best food prices?

Jennifer Bardsley compares Fred Meyer, PCC, QFC, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, WinCo and Whole Foods offers.

The top 10 albums of 2017: From Jay-Z to St. Vincent

This year saw an upward trend in music industry revenue due to the popularity of streaming services.

Relationship do’s and don’ts: Lessons from 40 years of marriage

Paul Schoenfeld reflects on what he’s learned about relationships after four decades with his wife.

Great Plant Pick: Pinus contorta var. contorta, shore pine

What: Who is not impressed by the beauty and toughness of this… Continue reading

Red wine usually costs more, but you can still find bargains

Here are five good-quality reds that won’t drain your grocery budget.

Beer of the Week: Skull Splitter and Blood of My Enemies

Aesir Meadery of Everett and Whiskey Ridge Brewing of Arlington collaborated to make two braggots.

Lots to see in Upper Skagit, even if the eagles are elusive

A guided hike through a mossy old-growth forest more than makes up for a lack of raptor sightings.

Making it through the holidays on 4 legs and 4 wheels

1. Driving safety Here are some travel tips from the Red Cross… Continue reading

Most Read