Did you grab the camera? Shoot, forgot it. Did you bring our iPod for the drive? Nope. Boy those kids are eating a lot on this drive to the trailhead. Do we have extra food? No. Ugh, my pants are too tight. Why didn’t I wear others?!? Hey, did you grab the Northwest Forest Pass before we left? Uhhhhhhhhh, no. If this is how the drive was going, I couldn’t wait to see how the hike would turn out!
After a quick stop at the ranger station to see if we needed to buy a day pass (we didn’t), we made our way up the road to the Heather Lake Trailhead. We arrived at 10:15am and the lot was almost full. This is definitely a popular hike.
Heather Lake is located in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The trail to the lake is 4 miles roundtrip and a 1,000 ft. elevation gain. We knew going into this hike that it would be Ethan’s longest and the most elevation gained on any of his hikes, but we knew he would be up for the challenge. We even told him that now he was 4 years old he could hike 4 miles with no problem. Autumn was also up for the challenge….of sitting in the backpack carrier for 2 hours. Whew!
The first mile or so was a nice gradual hike up some switchbacks. We meandored through a cedar tree forest that had been logged decades ago. There are some really nice cedar stumps that offer a glimpse of the past. You can see where loggers would insert pieces of wood to stand on to saw the log. It’s rather impressive even though the area was heavily logged.
After completing the middle section of the logging road, the second mile becomes a bit more challenging. The trail is heavily used and eroded from rain runoff. There are a lot of exposed roots and rocks, some wet, making it difficult for Ethan to maneuver some areas. On a couple steps he would put his hands on the ground to make the step up. There were areas we had to hold his hand or just carry him. After a series of stops to allow him to rest we made it to the lake in about 2.5 hours.
We stayed at the lake for about 30 minutes and enjoyed the views while eating lunch. The clouds never burned off so we didn’t get any view of the mountain peaks. While eating lunch I remember I had my Blackberry with a camera on it. All the pictures we took are on the Blackberry so the quality is okay.
Our hike down the trail went just fine. I carried Ethan a lot of the upper portion just so we didn’t lose the little guy on a fall. He enjoyed “flying” down the trail. When he was hiking in this area, he would stop at wet and bad trail sections, blink his eyes (he said those were his emergency lights going off) and I’d pick him up. We made a fun game out of it.
We made it back to the car after 5.5 hours. The kids quickly settled into their seats so we could grab a milkshake in nearby Lake Stevens. Though the trail was in okay condition, it was a great family hike.