A Short and Sweet Hike in the PNW – Heather Lake

Have you ever been so excited about a place that you had to tell everyone you knew about said place practically immediately? There are really only two places that fit this bill for me — Penang, Malaysia (I know, I still haven’t told you all about this magical place!) and Heather Lake. Last night the hubby and I were discussing if we wanted to hike this weekend and around 10 p.m. decided we’d leave this morning at 6 a.m. for an early morning hike.

Since moving to Seattle last month I’ve had a hard time deciding “where” to hike and have leaned heavily on WTA and my favorite local blogger couple The Mandagies. They have this amazing post on the top 20 energizing hikes in the PNW and we decided to tick one off the list — Heather Lake. We were ready to get outside after all of the smoke in the PNW and despite the 5:30 a.m. wake up call this hike was the best decision we’ve made since moving here. 


Before heading out on any hike in Washington be sure to check out the Washington Trails Association website — an AMAZING resource for up-to-date conditions of pretty much any trail you would want to try out. 

Need to Knows

  • Located about 1.5 hours from Seattle in the North Cascades — you’ll need your Northwest Forest Pass to park!  
  • Rated as an “intermediate” hike — roughly 4.6 miles roundtrip and 1,000 feet elevation gain
  • Check the weather –– likely very snowy in the winter and with all of the roots can be slippery in the rain. We went on a really dry day (it hasn’t rained since we moved here a month ago!) so we had no issues. 
  • Wear ankle protecting shoes — the roots and rocks here are a bit difficult to navigate. High top boots will save you!
  • Bring your “10 essentials” — you never know what could happen! We didn’t have cell phone service the entire time we were there so be prepared! 

Hiking Heather Lake is by far one of my favorite hikes in the PNW. Short and sweet hike with amazing views at the end.Tips to have your best time

  •  Everyone said that this hike was “easy”. In fact, the WTA even suggested bringing your kiddos for their first hike with elevation gain. Now, it’s not a hard hike (I won’t be sore tomorrow), but I wouldn’t rate it as “easy”. We saw a lot of toddlers trying to climb over rocks taller than them and if you decide to bring your little one be sure you have a carrying device that can take care of them if they get tired. I have ankle protecting boots and I struggled at times with climbing over the many rocks and roots so can only imagine what it must feel like for a 3-year-old. This is especially true coming down. Just take your time and wear supportive shoes. You’ll thank me later. 🙂 
  • Dress for the weather! I layer, layer, layer when hiking and I’m always thankful despite having to carry all the extra bulk as I de-layer (or better yet have my hubby carry it). 🙂 In the winter be sure to bring some type of winter hiking shoe, bring waterproof gear if it’s supposed to rain, and be ready to take off a lot of clothes as you climb up if you do this in the summer. 
  • Bring snacks (and water)! I love packing peanut butter and honey sandwiches, homemade trail mix (we don’t eat salted nuts so we make our own), and jerky. There is some FANTASTIC salmon jerky from Totem Smokehouse in Pike’s Place that I can’t recommend enough. Absolutely love this stuff! HELP — For water, I just bring a big Nalgene, but am in the market for a day pack with a bladder. Would love any and all suggestions! 
  • Going in the summer? BRING BUG SPRAY. I don’t know if it’s just this summer, but man the bugs are nuts here. I kind of forgot what a bug was living in Ireland and I was quickly reminded of the sting of a mosquito on my first hike. Trust me, I’ll never forget that green bottle of DEET again. I imagine my husband is secretly thanking me for making him smell like a chemical bath in this picture. 
  • Enjoy the little things! While we were sitting on this rock eating our snacks a duck family came swimming over and had a nice little bath right in front of us. I have never seen ducks come up this close to humans and it was so fun just watching them play in the water. 
  • HAVE FUN! The PNW is so special with amazing hikes, scenery, nature, and people. Despite the famous “Seattle freeze” we have found that people here are so kind and friendly. Get outside and enjoy being surrounded not only by beautiful nature and scenery, but also the pure magic of the PNW. If we had to move away from Ireland, I’m glad we got to settle in Seattle. We really are the luckiest. 

Happy Trekking! 

– Boots not Roots

If you enjoyed this post, consider donating to the Washington Trails Association to support these beautiful trails! I’m participating in a Hike-A-Thon the month of August to support these trails so would love any and all support! Much love! 

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Hiking Heather Lake is by far one of my favorite hikes in the PNW. Short and sweet hike with amazing views at the end.Hiking Heather Lake is by far one of my favorite hikes in the PNW. Short and sweet hike with amazing views at the end.

Suitcases and Sandcastles

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