Heather Lake Trail
Heather Lake Trail

Heather Lake Trail

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
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Heather Lake Trail

Heather Lake Trail

Distance: 5.4mi
Elevation: 1,211ft
Time: 2.5-3.5h

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The Heather Lake Trail is a heavily trafficked out and back trail that is rated as moderate. This is a great trail for beginners looking to advance their fitness or families with children who are growing more adventurous. The elevation gain is just challenging enough and the distance is just right, making it an enjoyable outing. The lake itself is stunning, with calm, clear waters and a jagged ridge framing the lake. With greenery climbing the mountains and snow patches holding on through summer, this lake is a picturesque objective.
The road that leads to the trailhead has numerous potholes to avoid, so we recommend taking a higher clearance vehicle if possible.

Heather Lake Trail Map

Getting there

The trailhead for the Heather Lake hike is off FR 42. Passing the Verlot Ranger Station, turn right into the Pilchuck Access Road. continue 1.4mi to the signed trailhead on the left. There is overflow parking on the left further down the road if needed.

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Backcountry Campground


When to do


Pets allowed

Yes - On Leash

Family friendly

Older Children only

Route Signage


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Route Type


Heather Lake Trail
Elevation Graph

Heather Lake Trail Description

Heather Lake is a pretty trail ideal for progressing hikers and families with kids who are getting the hang of the trail. Because of this, it’s also a very popular hike! If you can afford to come on a weekday or early on the weekend, having the lake to yourself is a magical moment. The elevation gain is enough to raise your heart rate, but the trail isn’t too long and doesn’t present any technical challenges.

Note that the road to the trailhead isn’t in very good shape, so we recommend a capable higher clearance vehicle.

The hike begins to the left of the parking lot, climbing through a second-growth forest on switchbacks. The trail climbs to a logging road, and you’ll hike along the road for a short distance before climbing once again through the trees. This portion of the trail is rooty and rockier and can be quite wet after rain. Watch your step!

Hiking through a clearing in the forest, then find the trail on the other side. This part of the hike shows off a few old-growth trees. Another small clearing leads to a slightly flatter trail, which comes as a relief.

The lake is only about a quarter-mile past this clearing. The ground approaching the lake is marshy and wet, but a boardwalk takes you across the worst of it.

Just before the lake, the trail splits. It doesn’t matter which direction you go, as the trail loops around the lake completely before meeting back here. Make your way around the shore, enjoying the wildflowers if they’re in season. Mount Pilchuck rises proudly behind the lake, and if you’re here in off-peak hours, the serenity is undeniable.

If you’re here in autumn, you’ll be treated to richly colored trees and the freshness of fall air. Whichever season you’re visiting in, we recommend coming back in another to experience the lake in different ways.

Complete your loop around the lake, returning to the trail and retracing your steps back to the parking lot.

Hiking Route Highlights

Heather Lake

This splendid mountain-clad lake is a treat to the eyes and an easy enough objective for many hikers. The lake is framed by proud Mount Pilchuck (5916ft). This lake is separated by a ridge from the also popular Lake 22, making this stretch of wilderness one of the most popular in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you swim in Heather Lake?

Yes, you can swim in Heather Lake, but the water tends to be quite chilly!

Can kids get to Heather Lake?

Yes, this trail is suitable for active children. The trail is somewhat steep, but it’s not too long.

Do I need a pass to hike Heather Lake?

Yes, please have your Northwest Forest Pass ready for this hike. You can purchase a day pass at the ranger station in Verlot if you don’t have one.

Insider Hints

  • This trail is spectacular in the spring, summer, and fall. If you can tolerate a wet trail, the lake is worth seeing through the seasons.

  • Good boots are a big help on this trail, especially if you have waterproof ones.



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