Round trip distance: 8.5 miles
Highest point: 4,600 feet
Elevation gain: 2,500 feet
Pass: Northwest Forest Pass
WTA page: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/melakwa-lake
I had never heard of Melakwa Lake until the week that I hiked to it. I was looking for nearby hikes to do that weren't too long, and I discovered this one on the WTA site.
This hike was a lot of fun, had a variety of scenery, and had a TON of wildflowers. I joked that the alternate name for this hike should be "The Flower Tour". It was also on this hike that I realized how awesome it was to be walking completely alone in a valley, surrounded by mountains on either side. As I was doing this, I knew that this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and that I feel happiest when I'm out in the wilderness alone. Some people may not like walking in a remote area where they're the only one around, but I love it.
I did encounter a few other hikers along the way, but the hike definitely was not crowded. I hiked to the lake after work, so I'm not sure how different it is on the weekend. The trail head is off exit 47 and shares with the Denny Creek hike. For the first mile, the trail is the same for both hikes. After crossing Denny Creek, the rest of the trail leads to Melakwa Lake.
|Waterfall seen from the trail|
About half a mile into the hike, I passed under I-90. Although this is man-made and not something that most people would appreciate having in nature, I thought it was cool because the section I was walking under is my favorite section of I-90 to drive on. The road is very high above the ground and winds its way through the surrounding mountains.
|I-90 from below|
After crossing Denny Creek, I hiked though a bit more forest and then came to a stream and the beginning of a valley. The majority of the rest of the hike passed through this valley, going across talus fields and between brush filled with wildflowers. The talus fields were fun, and I enjoyed seeing all of the different wildflowers on display. This hike has more varieties of wildflowers than any other hike I've been on.
|This was my favorite flower!|
|Second favorite - these were so vibrant in person.|
Once I reached the end of the valley, the trail climbed through some forest and crested over a ridge. I figured the lake would be showing up soon. Eventually I rounded a corner and there it was! It was big enough that I couldn't get the whole thing in one picture (if I was at a higher vantage point it would be possible). To get over to the open part of the shore, I had to cross a log jam.
There were plenty of places to camp, and I saw a tent on the other side of the lake. Maybe one day I will return and camp overnight at the lake!
I would say this hike was moderate in terms of difficulty. There were some steeper inclines at times, but it was mostly the length that wore me out. I would definitely do this one again, as the journey was just as much fun and as pretty as the destination!