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Heather Lake (near Lake Wenatchee)

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Hemlock or Huckleberry would be a more suitable name for this lake, as you'll be hard-pressed finding heather growing along the shores of this backcountry beauty. A misnomer yes, but a lake you'll not want to miss. Cradled beneath knolls of meadows along the Cascade crest and set in a deep forest of primeval proportions, Heather Lake is a pure gem. And the trail is a near delight! But you won't be alone here, as plenty of your fellow hikers are well aware of all of this.

Starting at the edge of an old clear-cut, the very well-constructed and well-maintained trail immediately enters a forest of big, beautiful ancient giants. You may end up agreeing with me that as worthy a hiking objective as Heather Lake is, this old-growth forest rivals it in beauty and majesty.

The first mile or so of this trail is pure pedestrian delight, gaining nary a foot in elevation. Cross side creeks and weave beneath towering hemlocks. At about 1.5 miles reach a heavy-duty bridge spanning Lake Creek as it cascades through a small gorge. The bridge was constructed in 2003, relegating the old log-jam crossing of the creek to the annals of hiking history.

Soon afterward, enter the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness and finally begin gaining elevation. The way turns steeper, but a cornucopia of ripe huckleberries may slow you down more than the grade. Pass a small ledge that provides a good glimpse out to Labyrinth Mountain, and then continue the upward momentum.

Eventually the way levels out once more and Lake Creek returns to your side. At 3.3 miles reach 3950-foot Heather Lake near its outlet. Stake out your spot on one of its polished, sun-kissed shoreline ledges and savor the surroundings. Grizzly Peak bears down from above. Ripples brush up against giant cedar logs. Alaska yellow cedars drape the shore. Not a heather in sight, but what a sight!
Driving Directions:

From Everett head east on US 2 for 85 miles to Coles Corner. (From Leaven-worth travel west on US 2 for 15 miles.) Turn left (north) onto State Route 207 (signed for Lake Wenatchee) and proceed 4.2 miles to a Y intersection after crossing the Wenatchee River. Bear left onto North Shore Road. At 7.6 miles, after passing the ranger station and crossing the White River, the road becomes Forest Road 65. Continue west on FR 65 for 4.7 miles, turning left onto FR 67. After 0.4 mile turn right onto FR 6701. Continue for 4.7 miles, turning left onto FR 6701-400 (signed "Heather Lake T.H."). Drive for 2.4 miles to the road's end and trailhead (elev. 2700 ft).

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 54 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Heather Lake #1526 — Jul 08, 2008 — Shadowdad
Day hike
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Trail is in good shape, in part thanks to Joe and the WTA crew that just spend a week working on the...

Trail is in good shape, in part thanks to Joe and the WTA crew that just spend a week working on the lower section of the trail. Trail is three distinct sections, flat approach, 1200' of gain up the east facing ridge, flat section to the lake. The first two sections are in great shape, the third still had some snow and water on the trail. Bugs were much lighter then expected.

A few minor blow downs up the upper part of the trail that the crew hadn't reached when we saw them on Tuesday.

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Heather Lake #1526 — Jun 29, 2008 — JAB
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Trail was dry and clear for first mile. Wet with some muddy spots from there to about 1/3 mile from ...

Trail was dry and clear for first mile. Wet with some muddy spots from there to about 1/3 mile from lake where trail was heavily snow covered. Lake was mostly (7/8 of area) still frozen and snow covered.Steady flow of families and dogs on trail.Beautiful, multiple water falls on cliffs above lake.

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Heather Lake #1526 — Jun 02, 2008 — Marie
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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The first half of the trail is pretty good considering how much runoff we've had lately. Muddy in sp...

The first half of the trail is pretty good considering how much runoff we've had lately. Muddy in spots,small hemlock across the trail and various little creeks. Closer to the lake you hit snow and for this time of year I mean SNOW! It's packed down...poles and gaiters are helpful, no snowshoes required. The lake is beautiful. It will probably be 4th of July(positive thinking) before you'll be able to get around the lake. There is still snow on the lake and the edge of the boardwalk that I could see was covered in about 4 foot of snow.

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Heather Lake #1526 — May 25, 2008 — Kevin
Day hike
Issues: Water on trail | Snow on trail
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I took my 6 year old daughter on her first hike and overnight camping. I had heard this was an easy ...

I took my 6 year old daughter on her first hike and overnight camping. I had heard this was an easy hike for kids. After our trip I would call Heather Lake more of a moderate difficulty hike. This trail has a couple small water crossings and one larger stream you have to walk through. You will certainly want some good hiking boots. The trail has lots of rocks and deep roots to climb over and up. Then at the last half mile we hit snow. Lots of it. I had overnight equipment in a pack which made going uphill in snow more difficult. I was very surprised to see 10 feet of snow late in May. The lake itself was beautiful with numerous waterfalls coming off the surrounding ridge. The snow prevented walking the perimeter of the lake. Call ahead to see if there are reports of snow and be prepared. Snow shoes not required but ski poles would have helped.

I'll be back later in the summer.

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Heather Lake #1526 — Dec 30, 2007 — Janice Van Cleve
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Snow on trail
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A perfect snow hike to end a great year and obviously a lot of other folks thought the same thing to...

A perfect snow hike to end a great year and obviously a lot of other folks thought the same thing today. Jon and I were first, however, so we had the heavy lifting tromping down the trail. Heather Lake is an easy, quick hike in the summer only a skosh over 2 miles from the trailhead and gaining 1200 feet. In winter, however, its a bit slower and because the Pilchuck Road was slippery and unplowed, we parked all the way down at the Mountain Loop Highway. So it made for a 7 mile round trip and good exercise.

The trail is easy to follow. At least 14 pairs of snowshoes have beaten it down. There are many blowdowns. We cleared some with my trusty saw, but I could have spent all day just doing that. Many tree limbs and vine maple branches bow over the trail loaded with snow. The last 400 feet to the lake were completely obscured, but Chris and Erica from Snohomish passed us as I was sawing and cleared a path. The snow was coming down so hard that we could not even see the further shore. Meanwhile back at the trailhead loads of cars and kids were sledding, building snowpersons, and playing in spite of the sheriff's sign saying the road up to Pilchuck was closed.

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Heather Lake by Physics hiker.jpg
Heather Lake. Photo by 'Physics hiker.'
Location
Heather Lake (#1526)
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East
Okanogan-Wenatchee Natiomal Forest, Wenatchee River Ranger District, Leavenworth
Statistics
Roundtrip 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain 1250 ft
Highest Point 3950 ft
Features
Lakes
Old growth
User info
Good for kids
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails Benchmark Mtn No. 144

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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Red MarkerHeather Lake (near Lake Wenatchee)
47.8663666667 -121.0753
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