Total Ascent: 650ft to Talapus, 1150ft to Olallie
Highest Point: 3800ft
Total Distance: 4.5miles round trip to Talapus, 6.5miles round trip to Olallie
Location: N 47° 24.8287, W 121° 30.9840
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
After weeks of ascending peaks such as Bandera and Teneriffe, we were looking forward to a change in our routine. We had not stood on the shore of an alpine lake since Melakwa Lake and realized a lake hike was long overdue. After some research we decided to explore some of the more popular alpine lakes in the region: Talapus and Olallie lakes.
Nestled within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Talapus and Olallie Lakes are among the most easily accessible lakes in the region. Established in 1976, the nearly 400,000-acre Alpine Lakes Wilderness hosts more than 700 lakes. Like so many place names in the area, these lakes bear the legacy of the early interaction of pioneers and Native Americans. Talapus translates to “coyote” in the pidgin language Chinook Jargon, while Olallie roughly means “berry.” Largely born through the necessity of trade, Chinook Jargon is an amalgamation of French, English and Salishan languages native to the Pacific Northwest.
Talapus Lake Trail #1039 begins with a gentle wander on wide track through the woods, crossing Talapus Creek and traversing marshy areas through a long series of bridges and raised walkways. Long switch backs and mild grades follow Talapus Creek a little over a mile into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness to reach Talapus Lake, tucked in a bowl between Bandera and Pratt Mountain. Find various small paths winding around the lake that travel past nooks, perfect for a snack or extended stay, overlooking the water.
Continue past Talapus on #1039 toward the smaller Olallie Lake three-quarters of a mile distant, passing a small trail connecting #1039 to the Pratt Lake Trail #1007. Enjoy the meander through the mature cedars and firs until you reach the wooded lake, resting beneath West Granite Mountain and Pratt Lake Saddle.
Both of these lakes are extremely popular in the summer months, so expect company as you take the short trek up. This hike is a great introduction to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and is extremely family-friendly. For the more adventurous, the connection to the Pratt Lake Trail provides access to a myriad of destinations beyond the lakes’ crowded shores. Winter or summer, this hike provides a tempting taste of the wilderness – the clarity of the water is interrupted only by the reflections of the surrounding landscapes, making it easy to forget the relatively close trappings of civilization.
To get there, take I-90 to Exit 45, going under the freeway to Forest Road 9030. Follow FR 9030 for about a mile until the road splits. Continue on FR 9030 to the right and follow it for a little over two miles until you reach the trailhead parking lot. -Nathan
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