Hikers looking for an introduction to the North Cascades will find this beauty of a trail has a touch of everything. Snow is melting and water is gushing, making this a lovely and sensual place to be. Located on the steep north face of Mt Pilchuck, Lake Twenty Two is an alpine cirque, laden in snow most of the year, but accessible at the same time. Waterfalls, wildflowers, and old growth forest dominate the hike and keep even the smallest members of your hiking group entertained.

Lake Twenty Two
Crossing Twenty Two Creek

Lake Twenty Two trailhead is clearly marked and the parking lot is large indicating the trail’s popularity. The trail begins gently, running near the road which cannot be seen after only a few moments on the trail. The trail is soon enveloped by the South Fork Stillaguamish River. After a few gentle turns past ancient cedar and fir trees, rivulets abound, framed by tiny waterfalls, and spritzes of water.

Lake Twenty Two
Ancient trees and ladder steps

Often the trail is directly in the stream’s path and hopping rocks is necessary. Long rungs of wooden steps ease the climb along several stretches while adding interest. Small trickles give way to gushing falls as the path nears Twenty Two Creek, not once but at least three notable times. The white rush of water runs beside a fair amount of the trail. Just before the hike gets redundant, the path opens to a lovely view of the surrounding mountain peaks.

Lake Twenty Two
View to the north

Vine maple flourish over an old avalanche slide, showing lime green in the late spring. Next, cross a newer avalanche chute, crushing shale under your boots, before returning to the cover of large conifers on your way to a few switchbacks. Do not quit yet though. Just before reaching the lake, you will hit the snowline and crunch over the well-trodden boot prints. The river appears again on your left. Just a few more steps and you will reach a bridge across Twenty Two Creek, and be facing the lake itself. Rest for lunch and count the graceful trailing waterfalls as the spill hundreds of feet from Mt Pilchuck above you. Or, if  you would rather, fish in the trout-laden lake before retracing steps and enjoying the journey in reverse.

Lake Twenty Two
The creek is the path in some spots

Season: Spring through Fall

Distance: 2.7 miles (each way)

Difficulty: Moderately easy

Variety: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 1350 feet

Highest point: 2413

Maps: Green Trails Skykomish No. 175

Open To: Hikers, Dogs

Passes and Permits Required: NW Forest Pass

Driving Directions: From Seattle, take I-5 north to exit 194 – merge onto US-2 E toward Snohomish/Wenatchee. After 2.3 miles, exit on the left onto WA-204 E/State 204 E toward Lake Stevens for 2.6 miles. Turn left onto WA-9 N/State Route 9 N and follow signs for Granite Falls 1.7 miles. Turn right onto WA-92 E/Granite Falls Hwy. Continue 2 miles past the Verlot Ranger Station and look for the well-signed right turn to the parking area.

Lake Twenty Two
Lake Twenty Two in July (there is more snow right now)
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