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Unforgettable Alpine Lake Hikes in Washington

Discover Washington's alpine jewels on the best alpine lake hikes in the state.

Hiking Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Severe

Colchuck Lake
Photo: Tobin Akehurst / Shutterstock


The state of Washington is home to a diverse topography filled with otherworldly views that capture the imagination. Of all the landscapes in Washington, the crystal-clear alpine lakes ringed by jagged mountain peaks are one of the most magical!

Picture this: you begin your hike at a small dirt parking lot, surrounded by the towering pines and spruces of the Pacific Northwest. Their massive trunks form a seemingly-impenetrable wall of deep, dark forest. There's no indication that a crystal-clear alpine lake awaits you, except for the babble of a small mountain stream flowing past. As you ascend the mountainside, you'll begin by hiking through the depths of the forest, but soon, you'll start getting glimpses of the towering mountain peaks high above from alpine meadows bursting with wildflowers. As you climb higher, you may pass cascading waterfalls, and you'll soon enjoy wide-open views of the majestic Cascades or Olympic Mountains. Upon reaching the lake, you'll be greeted with crystal-clear waters, their still surface often mirroring the surrounding mountainous landscape.

While each lake and each hike is unique, you can enjoy a version of this transcendent experience on every single route included in this guidebook! With so many hikes to choose from, you can easily pick an option that's tailored to your fitness and your level of desired epicness.

For one of the most epic alpine lake hikes in the state—indeed, in the nation—consider the Enchantments Traverse in the aptly-named Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This epic 18-mile point-to-point backpacking trip crosses a pristine mountain range and passes a never-ending array of crystal-clear lakes. For another epic hike, consider the 19-mile High Divide Loop in Olympic National Park or the 22-mile route to Clarice, Marmot, and Jade lakes.

Thankfully, there are also plenty of easy alpine lake hikes that are perfect for the whole family, too. The short 2-mile round-trip hike to Bench and Snow Lakes in Mount Rainier National Park yields stupendous views with very little climbing. Talapus Lake is also known as a more leisurely alpine lake hike.

And of course, there's a wide array of options in between the easy and the epic. Colchuck Lake, Snow Lake (a different "Snow Lake"), and Lake Twenty-Two are renowned as some of the best and most beautiful alpine lake hikes in the state. The list goes on and on!

If an alpine lake surrounded by towering mountain peaks sounds like your idea of the perfect hiking destination, dive deep into this guidebook to discover a slew of the best alpine lake hikes that Washington has to offer!

Routes included

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