Looking for a snow-free hike this spring?
Greenwater Lakes Hike offered us approximately 5 miles of snow-free hiking in old-growth forest. Our vehicle wound easily through bends in the forest service road, our driver familiar with the curves but not acquainted with the slumps and potholes. Our band of merry hikers jounced and bounced on the way to the trailhead. Suddenly we came to a stop. A bachelor buck with velvet on his antlers stood in the road to stare us down before slipping into the forest gone from our sight. An incredible beginning to our Greenwater Lakes hike.
We reached the trailhead and our group of five friends piled out of the truck. We grabbed our gear and threw our phones into airplane mode. There was nary a signal to be found (or toilet paper in the vault toilet for that matter). We stretched and hit the trail.
The trail was wide, mostly flat in the beginning and then began to climb.
Though we were promised only 500-ish feet of elevation gain in this trek it felt like more to this rookie hiker. Soon into the hike the sounds of the parking lot (and shooting range about half a mile away) faded away. The sounds of civilization were replaced with the roar of the river. We crossed the river several times. I may have hummed the theme song to Indiana Jones as I crossed each bridge. Okay, I totally did. I’ve never crossed a river like that. It was scary, thrilling and empowering.
Thanks to a wet spring this year in numerous sections of the trail the mud was several inches deep.
My hiking shoes were caked from the mud especially traveling through the swampy bog area! The mud may have slowed me down but it didn’t dampen my spirits. At one section of the trail with a waterfall on my left, the roaring river on my right and underneath me a babbling brook I realized this trail was a feast for the senses.
We hiked through old-growth forest to Greenwater Lakes (also known as Meeker Lake). While there were no Rainier views to gawk at the towering canyon walls with moss covered cliffs combined with the biodiversity of the forest were fun to see. This trail felt like 50 shades of green. The Greenwater Lakes are aptly named. One of the bridges we crossed was the perfect Pooh Sticks bridge if I ever saw one. Easy to imagine this picturesque spot with Pooh Bear and Piglet.
We hiked to the second lake to stop for a picnic lunch. After sweeping our area to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind we were off headed back to the parking lot lured by the promise of ice cream and milkshakes from Wapiti Outdoors. We ended our adventure refreshed from time in nature and the delicious treats at Wapiti. It seemed like the sound of the Greenwater River kept me company for hours after the hike. Judging by comments from folks who have hiked this trail in the past the river level was exceedingly high this weekend.
The following is a list of flora and fauna we saw during our visit.
Trees & Such
- Devil’s Club
- Douglas Fir
- Vine Maple
Greenery & Shrooms
- An Amanita Muscaria or Amanita gemmate (not sure which)
- Athyruim filix-femina aka the lady fern
- Coral fungus
- Dicranum a wind blown moss
- Largeleaf sandwort
- Licorice ferns
- Sedum! The forest has succulents!
- Threeleaf foamflower
- Calypso orchids
- Fairy bells
- Lady slippers
- Red blooming currents
- Trilliums and specifically some Wakerobins
- Viola glabella aka the stream violet or pioneer violet.
Wildlife & Critters
Along the trail we saw the following “friends of the forest”
- Flock of Canadian Geese
- Pair of ducks
- Lots of fast moving birds in the trees we weren’t able to identify
- Banana slugs
- Soggy earthworms
The trail is dog-friendly. Dogs should be on a leash at all times. Pet owners, please dispose of all waste responsibly. Campers, there are rustic campsites along the trail. The only toilets are at the trailhead. This hike requires a Northwest Forest Pass, America the Beautiful, or a day-pass from the USFS. Please keep in mind weather events can drastically change conditions along the trail. Always use caution around water especially when crossing rivers. To check the current conditions in the area click here. To speak to someone at the Snoqualmie Ranger District office in Enumclaw call (360)825-6585.
Want to read more about this trail? Visit our blog article written by hiking expert Mary Janosik. To view a series of short videos from the hike visit our YouTube channel. Our friends at Washington Trails Association and AllTrails also have helpful articles with additional trip reports.
Additional hiking trails in the area include: Skookum Flats, Snoquera Falls, Kelly Butte Trail.