#64 Colchuck Lake
The forest surrounding this trail is lush and vibrant in the fall. After meandering through the woods, you cross a bridge and begin an ascent over multiple switch backs, climbing over rocks and roots. It gets colder. Then, suddenly and without warning, you're at the lake. The view comes out of nowhere! You're just suddenly surrounded by picturesque mountains and a light dusting of snow. These unique features (and the trail's accessibility) make Colchuck Lake one of the region's most popular hikes. So, when we got there, the trail head was packed and we had to park in the nearby 8-Mile Lake parking lot. After hiking up, we met with a ranger checking permits and began our trek!
The first few miles followed a soft trail through dense forest. Nearby, we could hear the sounds of a creek. The trail followed it along for quite a bit. Then, we crossed a bridge and scrambled over a stone crossing. From there, it started getting cold. Snow peppered the landscape.
Distance: 3.2 | GPS: 47.5277, -120.8210
Elevation Gain: 2,280 ft | Peak: 5,580 ft
Central Cascades | My Hiking Master Post
The forest was thick and slightly chilly but sunlight filtered down through the canopy. As we climbed, we saw more and more snow, hiding in shadowy patches of brush.
The mountains loomed over us, giving us glimpses into just how far we had to go. As far as wildlife went, we saw rabbit signs in the snow and were perpetually harassed by Robber Jays overhead. But, other than that, it was pretty quiet. No bears! No goats!
After ascending for a bit, we arrived without warning. The lake shimmered, a lighter blue where the sun hit it. Half of the mountains in the distance were covered with yellow larches and the other half were covered with snow.
We had dinner at the lake and watched the light fade. It was chilly but cool to see how the seasons were shifting. I could look up and see one shadowed mountain covered in snow and, right next to it, a sun-lit one dotted with bright, yellow larches.
Staying at the lake for a long time meant that we ended up hiking in the dark. We were able to make it to the bridge and over the rocks before night fall - which was a relief. Then, it was headlamps on and cellphones out! The stars were like glitter overhead and, honestly, I'd never seen anything more beautiful than that. The stars were even better than the lake.
We got home late, tired, but happy (and full of pizza).