Hike to Talapus and Olallie Lakes
Sunday September 17th 2006
This hike features two lakes on the same trail. Talapus is the closer one, at a distance of 2.2 miles, and Olallie Lake is at 3.0 miles (6.0 miles roundtrip). The elevation gain is about 1200 feet, so this is not a challenging hike. But it is a pleasant one. This is reputed to be a popular hike, but we had an early start - the few cars in the parking lot when we got there looked like they had been there overnight (they had dew on them). There are several campsites near the lakes, and it looked like people were taking advantage of them.
Near the start of our hike, we came upon a conifer that was dropping pine cones onto the trail. At first we suspected a squirrel up in the branches, dropping the cones for harvesting, but we couldn't spot any movement up in the foliage. It would have been a mighty industrious squirrel, because the cones were dropping at a rate of one every ten or fifteen seconds. I guess this is a natural occurence, it just never occurred to me before that a tree might shed all of its pinecones at the same time (there wasn't any wind). I don't know what species of tree it was, so I can't check online about it cone-dropping behavior.
The trail is forested the entire way. It was not a sunny hot day, but even if it had been sunny in Seattle, this trail would be cool and shady under the canopy of tree branches. Maybe that is why the trail has the reputation of being popular, it is relatively close to Seattle, not too much elevation gain, and it is shady.
The trail winds close to the Talapus drainage creek a couple of times, and then it finally crosses it on a footbridge. Just beyond the bridge the trail splits - the right hand branch leads to Pratt Lake, but that was not our destination for today. We took the left side and soon reached Talapus Lake.
You can follow worn paths along the Talapus shore. I don't think they are "official" trails, but is obvious they are commonly used. We only went about a quarter of the way around the lake.
Reaching Olallie Lake is just a short hike beyond Talapus. This is a bigger lake than Talapus, and it is more open. There are several nice campsites, some of which were occuppied. We saw several people fishing. One website I referenced explained that Olallie is the Chinook word for berry. There are wild blueberries growing along the shore. We had lunch at the lake, including a couple of blueberries.
A victory photo by the lake shore, and then it was time to return. We passed a few groups of people as we headed out, the parking lot was a lot fuller in the afternoon than when we started in the morning. But I would not call the conditions crowded. This hike is easy and nice.
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