I recently visited this trail again and it’s one of my favorite novice hikes. It can be done relatively quickly and it features multiple ecosystems, some small stream crossings, and it’s got one killer view of Talapus Lake at the end.

This trail will also introduce new hikers to the “switchback” concept of trail design. To make the uphill trek of elevation gain easier, trails are cut in a zig-zag formation up the side of a mountain to make traversing upwards less laborious. Don’t get me wrong, uphill is still, well, uphill, but this approach makes the going easier. This trail also has a feature that Heavy Hikers will particularly enjoy, which I’ll describe later. Let’s get into it.

Talapus Lake Trail, in the Snoqualmie Region, WA

This hike is a well maintained out and back trek through the southern Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest that clocks in about 3.9 miles, with 720 feet of elevation gain. You begin from the trailhead on wide, well-manicured walking paths through covered forest. As you ascend to the taller sections of the hike, you’ll encounter Talapus Creek to your right. The trail gets a bit rockier through here, so be aware of where your feet fall.

Well Maintained Trails

 After the first set of switchbacks, there are several great spots to rest and take pictures. One particular spot is a collection of rocks on the left side of the trail where I like to take pictures of my adventurous wife, who can never turn down a chance to climb things (if you do this, please be careful).

Gets a bit rockier here…

After this point, the trail gets muddier, so you might want to rock some waterproof shoes or boots, though I wouldn’t consider them necessary. You’ll cross a few streams here. Nothing big, and as I visited here in October of 2017, the WTA was making progress on some bridges and turnpikes to level out the path and keep you out of the water.

A bridge makes crossing streams easier.

Finally, you come to Talapus Lake on the left hand side of the trail. It’s pure beauty. Have fun walking out on the timber on the south shoreline, snagging some pics. My dog, Bronko, likes to fetch sticks in the lake. This is a great spot to chill and have a snack. When you’re finished, just head back the way you came. Be aware of the downhill nature of the trek back. My steps become heavier and I tend to pick up speed as I plod down the path. This is also a good spot to mention proper trail etiquette, which states that you must always yield to the uphill hiker, so if you encounter someone on your way back, make sure you give them the right-of-way on their hike up the mountain.

Step carefully on the fallen trees.

Make sure you post your Northwest Forest Pass, or your America the Beautiful Interagency Pass in your window before you head out on the trail, and make sure you keep your furry friend on a leash.

So, you’ve made it to Talapus Lake. You’ve seen something beautiful. But wait. You’ve still got something left in the tank. And here now, we have come to why I love this hike for my overweight trail novices. If you’re up to it, continue just 1.2 miles further up the mountain and you’ll come to the absolutely fantastic Olallie Lake. Olallie Lake is a larger, more fantastic prize at the end of this trail. It’s more uphill aggressive, but it’s a great spot for overnight camping, which makes this hike a great gear-testing trip. If you go the whole way, this becomes a 6.2 mile hike with 1220 feet of elevation gain, which is quite the accomplishment for the new hiker.

When I first started hiking, I wanted to find a way to accomplish a goal, and then see if I could push myself… just a little further. That being said, on this trail, I don’t mind turning around at Talapus Lake, too. So, accomplish a goal and turn around, or challenge yourself to go higher. Either way, you’ll be proud of the progress you’ve made. For a more detailed description of this hike, plus current trail condition reports, check out the WTA website. Happy heavy hiking.