Or is it Lake Twenty-Two? It’s written both ways. And as someone who appreciates consistency, it’s also written Lake Twentytwo and Lake Twenty Two. Four different ways. Whatever the official way is, what a freaking amazing hike. Absolutely stunning. That’s the description that first came to mind when a friend asked me how it was. And then I called it tricky. Not tricky as in hard, tricky as in it keeps you guessing what comes next.
How I even ended up hiking Lake 22 is a fun story. Maybe not fun. But amusing. At least to me. I had seen a post on reddit with a picture of the lake. There was no mention of Lake 22 in the original post. But a few comments in, someone mentioned they recognized the lake. Lake 22. So I opened a new tab and searched Lake 22. I thought it might be a fun hike for Karann and me, if her foot was up for the challenge—she had foot surgery in early March. But it was late before bed and I forgot about it the next morning. A few days later, Karann texted me, asking if I wanted to hike Lake 22. She had seen a TikTok video of a woman she follows, who had posted a video of Lake 22. Karann was sold. I was sold. So we went.
Karann and I met in Lake Stevens to ditch my car and take hers to the trailhead. We figured parking would be tight… it sure was. Luckily we got there early-ish enough—about 9:30am—to score a makeshift spot in the next parking lot over, just past the Lake 22 parking lot. It was getting busy fast. By the time we parked and got our stuff together, there were no more spots left. As we made our way to the trailhead through the Lake 22 parking lot, there were two young gals who had finished the hike and wanted to leave… except their car was boxed in. Their car was in a line of parallel parked cars, and the car in front of them was maybe two inches from the bumper? It’s pretty unforgivable how close the car parked. And there was maybe six inches between her and the other car? Based on their expressions, I’d guess the other cars parked after they did. Awfully close. I wouldn’t have even tried to leave and I feel fairly confident in my parallel skills. Then again, with a big-ass Suburban, I avoid parallel parking because of people who park too close. Unless I can be the first or last car in the line, I’d rather walk a distance than park close to my destination.
The trail was busy. People everywhere. We made an effort to slow down or speed up a bit to get space between us and other groups. I’ve been a social distancer before it was cool. But it was unavoidable passing people coming up or down. It funny, since everything pandemic, I smell people more now. Not that they smell bad—some do—but I can smell different soaps or lotions, natural scents. I noticed this a few weeks ago and when Karann mentioned the same thing, it became even more apparent on the hike. I did wear a neck gaiter to pull up as we neared other folks. I’d say about 70% of hikers were wearing a face covering.
Like I mentioned above, the trail is tricky. It’s not hard but you don’t know what comes next. It starts out like a regular trail. Then there are wooden paths. Toss in some stairs, be them rock or wood. Climb over a massive downed tree. With mud. Back to plain old trail again. Then the never-ending rocky section, with small and large rocks serving as the trail. With several watery spots. And people taking pictures posed on top of large boulders for classic Instagram shots. With hand and arm positioning to get that perfect shot. Out of the never-ending rocks is plan old trail again. With mud and rocks along the way. And some more stairs. Then finally the lake. The lake! Such a reward after the hike up.
Views heading up the trail. Massive trees all around. And the sound of the waterfall was peaceful.
When first reaching the lake, there is a boardwalk straight ahead and one to the right. We went straight. It was the perfect spot to see the entire lake. And just off the boardwalk are lakefront areas to hang out. There were people galore snacking and taking in the view. We headed down past the crowds a bit, before we stopped for a snack. And then we wondered if the trail—the one we walked farther down on to get away from the crowds—went around the lake. We snacked and then kept walking. This was when we realized we could walk around the lake. How amazing is this?! There aren’t many lakes around here where you can walk around the entire thing. Or if there are, I’m not in the know. Which is very possible.
View of Lake 22 from the starting boardwalk.
As we approached the other end of the lake (maybe not end but direct other side from where we first started on that wooded boardwalk), there was a group of maybe 12 guys, sitting on a large boulder, singing. It was lovely. And it’s a moment that can’t be recreated even if we tried. The calming sound of them singing while taking in the views of the lake and the mountains above, stunning. I was in awe of the beauty of nature the entire time. I mean, I love nature and appreciate its every day beauty, but there was something special about Lake 22.
Part of the trail surrounding the lake. And more views from walking around the sucker.
A panoramic picture! I think this is maybe panoramic picture number two I have ever taken since having the option to take one? This is the lake from the other end, which is super descriptive, I know.
So maybe I know about the panoramic option but not the portrait option. Karann told me about it and how it takes better pictures. This is one. And I think she took this one. In portrait mode.
We took our sweet time walking around the lake. Stopping several times to look at things closer. Like the stacked rocks. And the luscious greenery. Even stopped to say hello to two little frogs. One of whom scared the hell out of me. We had walked down a path to the lakefront and when walking back, a little frog jumped from right in front of my feet back into some water under a rock. Then Karann saw his neighbor in the puddle over. I had hoped to see a mountain goat—this is one of my hiking goals—but I only saw two cute frogs. My mind always goes to question things like how did frogs get up here? Was it gradual? Like one frog started down the trail. Then his offspring moved up a bit and so forth. And who was that one frog who decided, yep, Lake 22 is home. And in their entire lives, how much of the area to they explore? Do they have many predators up there? Now that I think about it, I don’t recall seeing any birds around the lake.
Lucious greenery and a cute little frog. This is the neighbor. Not the one who jumped in front of me.
Another panoramic shot. Number three total. This is the surrounding view from the other end of the lake. Where I had hoped to see a mountain goat.
Stacked rocks are my latest thing. I never thought much about them until Brian randomly watched a YouTube video of a guy who stacks rocks for a living. Sounds odd but after the video, I was sold. I totally want to try stacking rocks. I know, I know, thrilling. Boring life goals. But instead of stacking rocks on the hike, I appreciated the rocks that had already been stacked. Maybe next time.
There must be about a hundred stacked rock structures up here.
The water was so blue!
After moseying around the lake, we were back to the entrance of the lake. We took one last look and started back down the trail. There were so many more people coming up as we went down. I was thankful we started relatively early. Usually going back down feels quicker than going up. Nope, the trickiness was still there. It felt like it took forever to get down. Not that I’m complaining; it was enjoyable. But it just felt like we’re almost there! Then nope. Okay, now we’re almost there. Nope again. For sure this is it! Nope! Eventually we made it all the way down.
The view from the rocky section. We were on the side letting people walking up pass, and admiring the young girl posing on a boulder for the perfect Instagram shot. She had that down.
Back to the car we went. And by now, the main road in the Forest had cars parked up and down both sides. Totally ignoring the No Parking signs. People. Karann dropped me off at my car and home we both went. I’d say the Lake 22 hike is top on my hiking list. So far. I’d love to go back on an early weekday morning, avoiding the crowds. And I think I’ve learned to actually read about the hike before going. I had only pulled up the Lake 22 page to see where it’s located. Perhaps I should have read about the hike. Then again, I’m not much of a surprise person but I think I enjoy not knowing and experiencing hikes without any expectations. So maybe I will continue not reading about them.
Until the next hike. So many options around here!