Home Hikes Heather Lake: A Hiker’s Paradise in Darrington, WA

Heather Lake: A Hiker’s Paradise in Darrington, WA

by Ryan

Anchored in the heart of the North Cascades in Washington, Heather Lake is a hiker’s dream. This moderate trail, known for its lush scenery and serene lake, is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. Here’s everything you need to know about embarking on the Heather Lake hike.

Trail Overview

  • Distance: The Heather Lake trail is approximately 4.6 miles round-trip, making it an ideal half-day hike.
  • Elevation Gain: The hike is moderately challenging, with an elevation gain of about 1,034 feet. It’s a steady climb but manageable for hikers with moderate fitness levels.
  • Trailhead Location: The trailhead is easily accessible from Granite Falls. Take the Mountain Loop Highway from Granite Falls and drive for about 27 miles. The trailhead is well-marked on the left side of the road, with a parking lot available for hikers.

The Journey to Heather Lake

As you begin your hike, you’ll immediately be enveloped by the dense forest canopy, with towering old-growth trees that create a green, serene environment. The trail meanders alongside a bubbling creek, adding a soothing soundtrack to your journey.

As you ascend, you’ll encounter several switchbacks, but the path remains well-trodden and clear. Along the way, you’ll be treated to glimpses of the surrounding mountains, their peaks often shrouded in mist, adding a mystical quality to the hike.

Reaching Heather Lake

The climax of the hike is, undoubtedly, arriving at Heather Lake. Surrounded by steep cliffs and lush vegetation, the lake is a picture of tranquility. Its crystal-clear waters reflect the surrounding landscape, creating a mirror-like effect that is a photographer’s delight.

Around the lake, there are several spots perfect for a picnic or a rest. The area is also a habitat for various wildlife, so keep an eye out for birds, deer, and other animals that call these woods home.

Tips for the Trail

  • Best Time to Visit: The trail is accessible year-round, but the best time to visit is from late spring to early fall when the trail is mostly snow-free.
  • Permit: A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking at the trailhead.
  • Gear Up: Wear sturdy hiking boots as the trail can be rocky and, in places, slippery. Don’t forget to carry water, snacks, and a first aid kit.
  • Leave No Trace: Always pack out what you pack in, respect wildlife, and stay on the trail to preserve the pristine nature of the area.


The Heather Lake hike is a beautiful journey through Washington’s natural landscapes, offering a mix of scenic beauty, physical challenge, and an opportunity for tranquility. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, this trail promises an enriching experience in the great outdoors. So lace up your boots, hit the trail, and discover the beauty of Heather Lake for yourself!

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