Our Hiking Time: 3h 30m
Total Ascent: 900ft
Highest Point: 3100ft
Total Distance: 7.2 miles
Location: N 47° 35.1000, W 121° 23.0640
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
This week, another rainy day steered us toward the ever-popular Dorothy Lake Trail, typically awash in hiking traffic. The lake’s popularity is a combination of easy access and sheer size – there is a lot of room to play on Dorothy’s two-mile long lakeshore. Thinking the rain would keep the crowds to a minimum we packed up and headed out to Highway 2.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find out the origin of the lake’s name, although we know it was christened sometime back in the 1800s. Most of the lore we could find centers around the previously described Dorothy Lake Highway Project that spurred the creation of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Today, all that remains of that dream is the Dorothy Lake Trail #1072, which still traces the proposed route.
The trail begins easily, following the East Fork Miller River for a little over a half-mile until Camp Robber Creek joins it. Take a moment at the bridge to enjoy the rushing water before plunging back into the old growth forest. The trail steepens once across the bridge, but stairs, elaborate boardwalks, and countless volunteer hours have tamed the once-rocky trail. Thousands of boots also keep the trail wide and extremely well maintained. At scarcely a mile-and-a-half a junction points you to the log-filled lake outlet and a view of the narrow lake with Big Snow Mountain in the distance. The trail then continues along the entire length of the lake and then over a ridge to Bear, Deer, and Snoqualmie Lakes, eventually connecting with the Snoqualmie Lake Trail #1002.
Short and rewarding, this hike is perfect for kids, families, and getting those non-hiking friends on the trail. While Dorothy Lake isn’t the largest lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, it’s a contender, and it’s sure to impress. Small islands dot the lake surface and private nooks and coves abound, making it easy to find a good place for a break. For those looking for a longer day, continue around the far end of the lake and over the ridge to Deer, Bear, and Snoqualmie Lakes -- the extra effort putting you well beyond the reach of the crowds. Although rain and lingering snow kept us from continuing up the ridge to the other lakes, we’ll be back to explore them before long.
To get there, take Highway 2 through Skykomish to the Old Cascade Highway, at roughly milepost 46. Cross the railroad tracks and continue for a mile before turning left onto the Miller River Road (Forest Road #6410). Follow this road nine-and-a-half miles until it ends. Confusingly, the road number changes to #6412 at four miles – ignore this and continue onward to the trailhead. -Nathan
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