On a beautiful May day what better to do than go hiking. So last Friday Judy and I headed off to hike the trail to Lake Twentytwo - just east of Granite Falls along the Mountain Loop Highway. Even though we found snow at the top, it was shirt sleeves all the way. And the views once there are spectacular. The lake is nestled into the base of Mount Pilchuck and its sheer northern face. One can see where avalanches fall here on a regular basis (on the opposite side of the lake).
The expanse is so large and up close that it's difficult to capture all of the rock face in one photo. Because the area around the lake is open and at 2,500 feet elevation, there was perhaps 3 feet of snow cover still there, though one might expect it to melt down quickly in this weather. Nothing to sit on but some fir bows or your light weight insulation blanket.
The trail itself is 2.7 miles with 1,500 feet of elevation gain and one might rate this as having moderate difficulty. Wearing boots is highly recommended due to the many small stream crossings and lots of sharp rocks - and currently snow cover for the last 1/2 mile. The Lake Twentytwo area encompasses over 800 acres of forest land set aside by the National Forest Service as a Research Natural Area (RNA). This special designation dates back to 1949 and will permanantly preserve the area for generations to come. Along the trail we saw some of the largest old growth cedar trees that we have seen anywhere. They are just huge and make the hike worthy just to see them. Lake Twentytwo creek drains from the lake down to the river below with the trail roughly paralleling the creek and revealing several beautiful cascading water falls.
To get there from Black Diamond, we recommend going "the back way". Instead of taking I 405 and I 5 north, we took Hwy 18 to Snoqualmie and then headed north following the path of the Snoqualmie River through Fall City, Carnation and Duvall and then on to Monroe. A much prettier drive than going the freeway and probably about as fast. Once in Monroe, follow SR 2, the Stevens Pass Hwy west (left), then turn north (right) on SR 9 connecting to SR 92 which will take you to the small community of Granite Falls. From here, connect to the Mountain Loop Hwy. The trailhead is well marked and will be on your right just past where you enter posted National Forest Service land. A bit of a drive but well worth it.