Our Hiking Time: 1h 10m
Total Ascent: 400ft
Highest Point: 3100ft
Total Distance: 2 miles
Location: N 48° 1.5420, W 121° 41.2200
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
Most weeks we head out the door with a couple of destinations in mind. We mostly want some alternatives just in case we find trail access washed out or closed, but sometimes weather conditions also play a role. This week heavy rain prodded us toward a very short but popular destination just off the Mountain Loop Highway: Boardman Lake. Despite being well-prepared and very use to hiking in the rain, we just didn’t feel up to facing the rain after such a short summer.
This short trail wastes no time diving into the trees. The forest here is mature, and only becomes older as you press deeper under the canopy. The junction of Evans Lake appears almost immediately, veering off to the right. The walk out to this tree-lined lake is not more than a few hundred yards, though the marshy shore is not nearly as welcoming as Boardman. Either way, the wide trail continues to wander through old-growth forest. In about a half-mile the trail begins to angle downward toward the water and a small gravel beach. From here, unofficial waytrails continue around the rocky shores of the lake, providing access to quiet viewpoints and secluded picnic spots. Hop across the logs that have collected at the lake’s outlet to find the five official campsites.
It almost goes without saying that a hike of less than a mile is a good option for the whole family. But it is worth noting that the trail is very friendly, with only a few roots and rocks to trip up little feet. And campsites are decent, and make for an excellent introduction to backpacking. However, perhaps because it is so easily accessible, the lake is popular in the summer months, and snagging a campsite may be challenging. Thankfully the lake is large enough that there is more than enough shoreline to go around. Find a quiet spot for a snack and enjoy a landscape that seems more wild and remote than you might expect.
To get there, take I-5 North to Exit 194. Follow Highway 2 for about two miles. Stay in the left lane and merge onto Lake Stevens Highway 204. Follow for two miles to Highway 9. Take the left onto Highway 9 toward Lake Stevens. In just under two miles reach Highway 92 to Granite Falls. Take a right and follow for about nine miles to the Mountain Loop Highway. Follow the MLH for nearly 16 miles to FR 4020, signed for multiple trailheads including the Boardman Lake Trail. Take a right and follow the gravel road about two-and-a-half miles to a junction. Head left and continue a little over two miles to the trailhead. - Nathan
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