Mark Shaffer taking a swim in Heather Lake.
Heather Lake Hike – Where Has All the Heather Gone?
by Sarah Shaffer
Attraction. Heather Lake seems like a misnomer because you’re going to be seriously challenged to find heather growing along the edge of this pretty lake. While the name is misleading, this hike is not to be missed as it is tucked into knolls and meadows along the Cascade crest and set amongst beautiful old-growth forests. Because the lake, the forest around it, and the trail leading to it are all gorgeous, this is a popular hike — get used to the fact that you’ll be sharing the place with plenty of fellow hikers.
When my family did the hike with friends, we made things more interesting by adding two toddlers and a dog to the mix. This made the short section of downed trees and three small creek crossings more exciting. We had our daughters in child-carrier backpack’s, which made the journey quite a bit easier but also made us think carefully about balance on the log crossings over the creeks.
Map: See our topo map below.
Access: From Lake Wenatchee follow the North Shore Road (State Highway 207) around the north side of the lake. About 0.8 miles past the northwest end of the lake, hook left on the paved road that becomes Forest Road 65. In 0.45 miles, cross the White River and in roughly another 5.5 miles reach an intersection with Road 67 or 6701 (exactly which road this starts as is a bit confusing). Turn left and follow what will become Forest Service Road 6701 about 5 miles up the Little Wenatchee River drainage to a Y with Forest Service Road 400. Take the left fork here and drive Road 499 about 2.3 miles to the end of the road and the trailhead (elevation 2,740 feet). A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead.
Usage: Moderate to heavy. The lake is in wilderness area and open to hiking only.
Length: 3.25 miles (one-way)
Fitness: 2 (intermediate)
Skill: 1+ advanced beginner
Elevation Gain: 1,300 Feet
Permit: NW Forest Pass required at the trailhead.
Campfires. Fires are prohibited at Heather Lake and at Glasses Lake.
Trip Instructions: Heather Lake is a popular 6.5-mile round trip hike west of Lake Wenatchee. The start of the hike is quite flat but then the grade ramps up as you climb the last few miles to the lake. There is a creek crossing located one mile from the trailhead which can be hazardous in early season.
Photo Right: Forget backpacking, Mark Shaffer and Sean Winder are daughter-packing to Heather Lake.
- Starting at the trailhead at the edge of an old clear-
cut, a good trail immediately enters a forest of big, beautiful old trees. This forest alone is worth the hike to the lake.
- The first mile of the trail is flat. At about 1.5 miles you’ll cross a bridge spanning Lake Creek which bubbles below you through a small gorge.
- Soon afterward, you’ll enter the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness and the trail starts climbing. The path climbs steadily now but it is well graded and not difficult walking. In late summer ripe huckleberries flank the trail and these may slow you down more than the climbing.
- About 3.25 miles from the car, you’ll reach Heather Lake (elevation: 3,950 feet). Find a comfortable polished rock near the shoreline of the lake, sit a spell, and soak in the surrounding cedars, the distant mountains (Grizzly Peak is the highest point above the far side of the lake) and the sunlight sparkling on ripples of water.
More Info. Click here for additional info from Washington Trails Association.
Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Do no damage and pick up trash left by others.
Date: This report was first entered 6/14/2015
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.