At nearly 4 miles round trip, Lodge Lake is a perfect hike if you have a small window of time. We went on a rainy Tuesday, which was perfect, since I love hiking in the rain!
At the top of Snoqualmie Pass (I-90), go to the far far west parking area and you will find the parking lot for the Pacific Crest Trail and the trail for Lodge Lake, both of which share the path until you reach the lake. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for this parking area.
The hike first travels across the ski slopes. The view across I-90 is gorgeous, and it’s fun to walk where normally 10+ feet of a snow base covers the slopes. Traffic from I-90 and the buildings from the top of the pass are easily visible (and audible). But once you crest the hill and start down the other side, the noise disappears (other than occasional air traffic) and it feels like you are out in the middle of nowhere. The sun and heat from open slopes cools right away once you reach tree cover. Ahhh.
This is not a busy trail. We saw a total of 9 people (including us), 1 dog, and 1 cell tower service worker. There is some rock scrambling, sections of roots to watch, and even a pretty stream to ford, but it’s not difficult. The trail is well-maintained. The peace and quiet, forest scents, bird song, views, and exercise were just what I needed.
There are two places to watch. I read one report on the Washington Trails Association website, which warned us about both. Once you reach the top of the slopes, do not follow the steep path up towards the cell tower. Instead, find the path to the far right and take that. When you see the I-90 sign on a tall tree, look to the right for the trail. It has an edging of rocks.
The other section is knowing how far to go on the trail. You WILL see the Lodge Lake sign on a tree. Just take that path. You will glimpse the lake through the trees. If you miss this sign and find one for Stampede Pass, you’ve gone too far. Turn around.
The lake was so beautiful! Just as we arrived, it started to rain-my favorite! Plan to keep moving or bring along the bug spray. The mosquitos were starving and aggressive. We only stayed a short while and had to leave to get away from them.
Pretty views streamed out in every direction, from wildflowers to tiny waterfalls. Other than the skeeters, the Lodge Lake hike is a gem! Plan this hike in spring, summer, or fall. Come snow (and skiing season), you will need skills and equipment beyond what I have!
After church on Sunday, we dug out our hiking boots, backpack, and hats and drove up to the Tieton River Nature Trail. From Yakima, it’s a pretty quick drive, just a few miles up Highway 12 after the road splits into Hwy 410 and Hwy 12. We parked across from the Oak Creek Feeding Station (Discover Pass required).
For a first time out hiking this year, it was excellent. Not too much elevation gain, and the trail was mostly smooth but quite dusty. There are rocks and roots to watch for in a few sections, but overall the trail is in great shape. The canyon scenery was gorgeous, with the Tieton River rocking and rolling, and blue skies interspersed with puffy white clouds.
Now is the time to go! Spring wildflowers are peeking out! And, my personal favorite, the grass is barely greening and shooting up, so there is less tall grass to rub up against my legs and give me ticks! Cheatgrass is not an issue if you stay on the trail. Yuck.
Sunblock was a necessity, as usual. I’m not a huge fan of hiking into the wind, but it kept us cool. When the wind died down on certain sections due to canyon topography and stands of trees, it was quite warm.
We did not do the entire hike since we started out later in the day. We hiked over the first bridge near the feeding station and walked the trail past the quonset hut (it’s visible across the river) to the foot bridge. Whee! That was fun. I’m definitely a two-hands-holding-on type of person. And a one-person-at-a-time hiker. Lots of swinging and swaying. The metal bridge is pretty slippery on the southern end just as you get on, so beware that section.
We found a beaver-gnawed tree, saw and heard squabbling blue jays, watched an eagle soar up above the canyon walls, marveled at a group of rock climbers, enjoyed a tiny nut hutch scrambling up a tree (best guess), and wondered who left the plentiful berry-filled scat (and watched carefully in case we found the culprit). One bumblebee and a few flying insects rounded out our wildlife sightings.
Hikers can also park at the quonset hut a few miles west of the feeding station (Discover Pass required here as well).
We can’t wait to return and continue west of the quonset hut.
Read more about the Tieton River Nature Trail here.