To get there, take I-90 to Exit 45, following the access road under the freeway to Forest Road 9030. Follow FR 9030 for .9 miles to a signed junction. Turn right, following the sign pointing to Talapus Lake. Continue on FR 9030 for 2.3 miles to the trailhead parking lot. Privy available. View Google Directions >>
Talapus Lake Trail #1039 begins by following an old forest road into second generation forest. Wander beneath stands of young trees before leaving the wide track for more rugged trail. As you climb, the trail cuts through marshy areas along an elaborate system of raised boardwalks and bridges. After about a mile of navigating mild grades and walkways the route crosses into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and soon reaches the banks of Talapus Creek. From here, the trail follows the creek to Talapus Lake, passing an impressive waterfall just off the trail at the 1.3 mile mark. Look and listen for the cascade at a sharp bend in the trail just before it angles upwards.
After 2 miles, reach Talapus Lake tucked in a bowl between Bandera and Pratt Mountain. Spend a some time exploring the maze of bootpaths that snake around the lake to find a handful of campsites and inviting stopping points along the water perfect for a snack or extended stay. Once youve taken it all in, push onward toward Olallie Lake following the trail as it meanders peacefully past mature cedars and firs. Along the way pass the Talapus Cutoff Trail #1039.1 which offers a quick connection with the Pratt Lake Trail #1007 and access to a number of nearby lakes and prominences. After .75 miles reach the wooded shores of Olallie Lake resting beneath the slopes of West Granite Mountain and Pratt Lake Saddle. Find a quiet spot and settle in to enjoy the solace.
This family-friendly hike is a popular choice for families and young backpackers and makes for a great introduction to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Approachable and accessible, the lakes are a popular summer destination, so you can expect some company on your way up. Whatever time of year, the trail provides a tempting taste of the wilderness stands of old growth, crystal clear alpine lakes, and rugged landscapes make it easy to forget the relatively close trappings of civilization.
For those looking for a little more mileage, the Talapus Cutoff Trail #1039.1 offers access to nearby Pratt Lake or Island Lake via the Pratt Lake Trail #1007. Alternatively, hikers can put together a through hike by parking an additional vehicle at either the Granite Mountain Trailhead or the Ira Spring Trailhead.
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.