If you’re looking for a longer day-hike close to Seattle (within 30 to 40 minutes) or solid trail run with a worthwhile payoff, but don’t want a huge elevation gain, Pratt Lake (No. 1007) is a winner.
The trail begins at the restroom on the edge of the parking lot (come early for a spot). You will find a map of the trails and a list of the trails with mileage at the trailhead. At 1.1 miles of gentle elevation gain, you’ll reach the signed junction where most of the foot traffic will go right and begin the steep climb to the lookout on Granite Mountain. You will find this trail very challenging if you are not in shape. The junction is well marked and you want to continue on towards Pratt Lake.
You will cross several small creeks, and at 2.7 miles, you will discover a quarter-mile section of raised boardwalks over marshy wetland. Just beyond, you’ll enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. At 3.1 miles, you will come to a second signed junction, this time for a trail that leads to Talapus and Olallie Lakes. Continue straight ahead once again, and at 4.0 miles (elev. 4,200′) the view opens up dramatically at the base of a talus field for a look south down at Olallie Lake. A quarter-mile further, you’ll reach the junction for Pratt Lake. Head right and begin your descent down into Pratt Basin (left goes to Mt. Defiance). This is where the trail becomes much more interesting. Hike through talus fields, lush vegetation, and expansive vistas as you lose over 600 feet of elevation, and at 5.8 miles, get your first unobstructed view of Pratt Lake.
Continue up high along the east side of the lake before finally dropping down to water-level at the north end of Pratt Lake. This is a great place to find an empty rock along the shoreline and enjoy lunch and the views.
This hike is twelve miles roundtrip, so it might be considered a bit out of stretch for beginner as a day hike
Pratt Lake Trail (No. 1007) is a popular gateway into the 390,000-acre Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. From the Granite Mountain Trailhead, the wide and well-worn path climbs past cascading creeks and fragrant stands of maturing firs and pines. A mile into the trail, the Granite Mountain Trail (No. 1016) forks to the right. Continue to your left (the tail is well marked) Pratt Lake Trail for the first significant elevation gain of the trip. As the trail traverses the slopes of Granite Mountain, you’ll catch glimpses of the Cascades through gaps in the trees.
At the 3-mile mark, the trail intersects the Talapus Lake Cutoff Trail, which leads to the shores of Talapus Lake and Olallie Lake. Bear left for a short side trip to the lakes, or continue straight for the remaining 1.1 miles to the saddle. Just below the saddle, the trail rounds to the southwest and crosses a talus field; stop for stunning views of Mount Rainier and Olallie Lake. At mile 4.1, the route crests the 4,200-foot ridge separating Pratt Lake and Olallie Lake. Savor the 360-degree views of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness before turning around and descending back to the trailhead.
- Elevation Gain: 2,350 ft.
- High: 4,200 ft.
- Where: North Bend, WA
- Distance: 12.00 miles (round trip)
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Features: Dogs Allowed, there are waterfalls and of course Pratt Lake
What you should know
Northwest Forest Pass required. Dogs must be on a leash. A toilet is available at the trailhead, but there is no water. Camping is allowed in designated sites, and there is a pit toilet at the north end of the lake (but no toilet paper). This is a popular area, so be sure to stick to the trails and practice minimal impact hiking and camping. No fires. Carry a day pack with water and the ten essentials, wear proper clothing. If you are new to hiking refer to the 10 essentials list. There is a map at the trailhead, but you might want to carry Green Trails Bandera No. 206. If you go to the Washington Trails site you can get current trail conditions. The Washington Trails site also has a wonderful tutorial on hiking basics that can be very useful for beginners.
How to get there
Head east on I-90 to exit 47; turn left (north) at the end of the off-ramp and drive back over the freeway 0.1 miles to a T in the road. Turn left at the T (clearly signed) towards the Pratt Lake/Granite Mountain Trailhead. Parking lot is 0.3 miles further. Additional parking is found along the side of the road as needed. Put valuables in the trunk our carry in your pack.