I did something totally out of the norm for myself this past weekend. I asked our favorite babysitter (and friend), Sierra, if she’d be willing to watch the kids on Sunday so I could enjoy a solo mom day hiking Talapus and Olallie Lakes. I love hiking with my children, but as I mentioned a few months ago, one of the biggest parts of hiking with the kids is going at their pace and at their level. That’s meant that most of our hikes this past year have been on the shorter end of the spectrum, and while they’ve been beautiful, it’s no secret that I thrive on a good challenge. I need a challenge to keep me going. So, I asked my friend Maribel if she’d be down for an adventure, she agreed, Sierra came, and off we went towards the Snoqualmie National Forest for a good hike.
When we first decided to do this hike, the forecast called for partial sun and clouds. Perfect. That’s exactly what we wanted. As the week progressed, however, the forecast changed and, instead, called for intermittent rain. We’ve grown pretty accustomed to the moody weather of the PNW, so I was fairly undeterred, but it definitely altered our hiking plans a little bit. Instead of going for a hike that called for a bit of a scramble on the rocks to a beautiful lookout, we decided to opt for a hike with a little more tree cover and less scrambling. That’s how we ended up choosing to spend the day hiking Talapus and Olallie Lakes.
Before our hikes these days, I make a point of scouring the trip reports on AllTrails. I think they give a really good gauge of not only the current conditions of the trail, but the amount of hikers, the road up, and more. Most of the trip reports mentioned a pretty rough drive to the trailhead, and almost all of them said it’s not a large lot in which to park, so we planned to arrive mid-morning, and I’m glad we did! It was misting the whole ride up, but we never experienced a downpour, so we were pretty excited to lace up our boots (literally) and get started.
The trail is marked as moderate, and I’d hazard a guess that that’s due solely to the elevation gain. While not too rapid or intense, the trail gradually climbs about 1,300 feet and, as expected, it was pretty muddy throughout. It was also extremely well-maintained though. The felled trees were well off the trail, there were sandbags placed strategically throughout the hike to prevent too much erosion, and I was really impressed with the lack of waste and trash along the train. In comparison with some of the other hikes we’ve done, this one was top notch in that regard.
While most of our hikes are stop-and-go because of little legs, we enjoyed taking our time as we headed up towards the lakes. We stopped to take pictures, walk out onto the fallen logs on Talapus Lake, and had a leisurely rainy picnic once we made it to Olallie Lake. I’ll be honest – Talapus was by far the more spectacular of the two lakes, flanked by high hills alive in fall colors. Olallie’s backdrop of the mountains was shrouded in mist, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s incredible on a sunny day, as well. Overall, it was a beautiful hike up, and it was so nice to stop when we wanted, and not just as needed.
We ended up wanting a challenge, and we hauled it back down the trail pretty quickly, making it back in just about an hour and 20 minutes. There was something so impressive and serene about the canopy of trees, the hidden birds, and the overall lack of noise on the trail. I have to say, too, we really enjoyed looking at how the moss grew on the trees at the top because it almost looked like hair blowing in the wind…yes, friends. These are the things you notice whiles hiking without kiddos haha but seriously, it was such a fun and beautiful day. Self-care looks different for different people, but this is my kind of therapy, and it was so needed. Local friends…if you want to try hiking Talapus and Olallie Lakes, here’s what you need to know:
Trail Length: AllTrails clocks this one at 5.7 miles roundtrip. We did a little extra exploring, so we ended up doing just about 6 miles, which was awesome.
Level of Difficulty: This one is rated moderate. I’d say for younger and more inexperienced hikers, this is definitely moderate. I didn’t find it too challenging, but I’ll definitely say that my butt felt the burn as we climbed.
Cost: Free; You do need to display your Northwest Forest pass.
Dogs: Yes! This trail is dog-friendly, though they must be kept on leashes. I’ll say that most of the pups we saw on the trail were not leashed, but they were also incredibly well-behaved.
Tips: There are two bathrooms along the trail. The first is right at the trailhead. The second is just past Talapus Lake up the hill and off the trail. There is also a branch off from the trail towards Olallie Lake that leads to Pratt Lake. Basically, if you’re doing this hike, just be mindful of the markings because you can easily get turned around and off track.