You’re bound to run into all manner of people on the Pratt Lake Trail: trail runners, families, beginning hikers, backpackers hungry for a night out in the woods, even folks looking for fish (in the lakes, not on the trail). All that traffic does a number on the trail, but fortunately WTA work parties have worked hard here, ensuring that all trail users can easily follow the picturesque path to Pratt Lake.
The first mile may be crowded, but after passing a junction with the popular Granite Mountain trail, the crowds disperse – or at least spread out. Hike along the wide Pratt Lake Trail, crossing several sweet streams fed by snowbanks high up on the flanks of Granite Mountain. In early spring, these stream crossings can be high, even treacherous, so evaluate each crossing for safety according to your own ability.
Three miles in, you’ll come to a junction. The left-hand fork leads to the Ollalie Lake Trail in just 0.2 miles, but Pratt Lake is found by taking the right-hand fork, which traverses the hillside and then begins climbing to a junction with the Island Lake/Mount Defiance Trail after 1.2 miles. Just before this junction, you’ll reach a clear spot in the trail, where Ollalie Lake lies still and green in the valley below you, and Rainier hovers straight ahead. In this open area, beargrass flourishes in early spring. It’s a great spot for a snack and photo opportunity.
At the junction for Island Lake, take the right hand path that heads down into Pratt Lake Basin. All the climbing you have done from the trailhead is now reversed, as you switchback steeply down a forested hillside to open granite talus slopes. Here the trail is quite exposed – be sure to bring (and use) your sunscreen. Hike down the talus to a marshy section that sometimes requires bug juice – mosquitos and black flies can be an irritation here, but a breeze can lessen their onslaught.
This marshy area opens onto yet another talus field. Stop for a moment to take in the sapphire-blue waters of Pratt Lake before pressing on. From here it’s less than half a mile to the Pratt Lake campgrounds and day use areas.
WTA Pro Tip: Camping at Pratt Lake makes a great base camp for backcountry adventures, including fishing (catch-and-release), a short stroll to Lower Tuschohatchie Lake just 0.6 miles away, or a day hike to Melakwa Lake, a more demanding six-mile roundtrip hike.
Pratt Lake Basin
- 11.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 2,300 feet
- Highest Point
- 4,100 feet
Hiking Pratt Lake Basin
Pratt Lake Basin
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.3979, -121.4865 Open in Google Maps