The greatest reward during a hot hike is to take a cool dip at your destination. With all the lakes scattered around this region it’s not hard to find a trail that leads to crystal blue water. Here are a few standouts.
A Stairmaster in the wilderness
The trail to Lake Serene is a climb. With an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet, hikers have to huff it up a ton of stairs, but the top is spectacular. In winter months the lake is frozen over. In summer it’s a glossy bluish-green. Swimmers don’t wade there for long, though. The water is numbingly cold. If the challenge to Lake Serene sounds too daunting, hike about 1.5 miles in and veer right for beautiful Bridal Veil Falls instead.
Perfect for a family adventure
Barclay Lake is a great hike for kids getting used to the outdoors. The elevation gain is under 500 feet, and while the trail goes up- and downhill, there’s nothing too difficult for a little explorer to handle. The lake also has shallow parts for kids to wade into or swim around in. The rocky peaks of Baring Mountain are high above.
A stroll along the shore
For a fairly easy hike with ample views of the water, Bumping Lake in the Mount Rainier area is a good choice. The trail nearly instantly hits the shore, where you can see beautiful Nelson Ridge above the sparkly blue lake. Along the way you can spot the stumps from an old forest that populated the land before Bumping Lake Dam was built in 1913.
More than just a number
Tucked away in the north shoulder of Mount Pilchuck, the trail to Lake Twentytwo weaves through rainforests toward mountain views. In the winter, it’s a good spot for snowshoeing. As far as the name, the theory is that in the 19th century, railroad maps listed creeks by number. A creek and its source lake were dubbed “22” and the name stuck.
Bridge crossings await
Hikers follow the meandering Greenwater River on the way to Echo Lake in the Mount Rainier area. The trail is dotted with a handful of bridges that take visitors over the chilly, rushing water and into the quaint forest. The final stretch down to the lake is challenging but once you hit the shore there are campsites where hikers can rest and swim.
Lower Lena Lake
The hike to Lena Lake on the Olympic Peninsula is fairly easy and full of splendid photo ops. Pause at waterfalls, streams, old-growth fir trees, and large bridges. Hike down to the lake for a splash in the water. But if you want to keep adding to your photo library, head up to a stunning overlook of the lake. This may be the best picture spot of the trip.