Snohomish County offers an abundance of trails with scenic lake destinations for hikers and walkers of all ages and abilities. From hiking in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to strolling the Centennial Trail, residents and visitors to Snohomish County can take advantage of the area’s natural beauty both in the wilderness and closer to the cities.
One of the most popular hiking destinations in the state is Lake 22. Located a short distance from the southern entrance of the Mountain Loop Highway, this intermediate-difficult hike is a 5.4-mile roundtrip with 1,350 feet of elevation gain. The highest point of the trail is 2,400 feet above sea level, treating hikers that reach the top of the trail with stunning views of an alpine lake bordered by the northeastern crest of Mount Pilchuck. On the journey up, hikers will encounter several shallow creek crossings and a lengthy talus, or boulder field, that can be tricky to navigate. There is currently a landslide/mudslide about 1.7 miles up the trail that can pose a challenge for some hikers. Dogs or kids might need assistance on their way up or down this section, and it should be noted that the trail’s peak can be snowy even in early summer. The entirety of the trail falls within the Lake 22 Research Natural Area, and signs posted at the trailhead remind hikers to pack out everything they pack in to help preserve the area for research purposes. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking.
Just a short distance from Lake 22, Heather Lake offers an easier hike and more accommodating terrain. This intermediate trail terminates at a slightly higher elevation of 2,430 feet, but it is shorter at 4.6 miles roundtrip and less of a climb with 1,034 feet of elevation gain. Currently, the trail is in great condition and weathered the winter without any significant slides, though snow can still be found on the trail at higher elevations. Hikers that have completed both the Lake 22 and Heather Lake trails will note the familiar landscape, as Heather Lake sits in the next valley to the west. The northwestern face of Mount Pilchuck’s peak provides a truly awesome backdrop to Heather Lake. Recreational anglers and backpackers can find dispersed campsites near the lake. Visitors will need a Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead.
About nine miles outside of Darrington, near the northern entrance of Mountain Loop Highway, lies the Beaver Lake trailhead. This easy hike located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest covers 4.25 miles roundtrip with a slight elevation gain of about 100 feet. The trail offers beautiful viewpoints of the thunderously loud Sauk River and Cascade Mountains. Trees have fallen onto the path at a few junctures, but they are traversable, and the trail is well maintained otherwise. The hike terminates at a partially collapsed bridge with a sign indicating the official end of the trail. For the last portion of the hike, visitors can spot multiple beaver dams and lodges as the path winds away from the river and turns towards the lake. There are no passes or fees required for parking at the trailhead.
Located near mile 18 of the Centennial Trail, Lake Cassidy is an easy walking destination. From the Getchell Trailhead, the walk to and from Lake Cassidy is about 2.5 miles roundtrip, while the Rhododendron Trailhead offers a shorter walk of approximately 1.25 miles total. Both routes have a minimal elevation gain of about 50 feet. A small park and rest area lie to the west of the trail, and a pedestrian boardwalk leads visitors to a small dock with a clear view of the lake. Lake Cassidy is also ADA accessible via a gated entrance about a quarter-mile south of the park. The Snohomish County Parks Department issues ADA permits, but there is otherwise no fee or pass required to access Lake Cassidy and the park.
Gold Basin Mill Pond
Walkers looking for an educational destination or hikers looking for a quick stop on the way to/from Lake 22 will enjoy Gold Basin Mill Pond. This very easy walk along an interpretive trail has a minuscule 20-foot elevation gain and offers an extremely short roundtrip of about a quarter-mile. Gold Basin is the historical site of a sawmill and find informational signs at a few stops along the trail. A large dock reachable by boardwalk offers a photogenic vista of the pond, but the boardwalk is partially submerged at times, depending on the lake’s water level. There is no pass or fee required to park at the entrance of the interpretive trail. Located across the highway from the trailhead is a campground and find a picnic area on the South Fork Stillaguamish River less than half a mile west of the pond.
Whether hiking on Mount Pilchuck or walking along the urban Centennial Trail, Snohomish County offers gorgeous lake spots to visit. Regardless of experience level, Snohomish County is home to a lake trail suitable for anyone wanting to get outdoors.