A new trail! Well not really new, but new to myself and my hiking buddy. We were determined this morning to hike something we hadn't done before and decided to see what Talapus and Ollalie Lakes had to offer. They can be reached after a winding drive up the somewhat potholed but passable Forest Road #9030 off Exit 45 just short of Snoqualmie Pass (coming from Seattle). Actually, they lie just to the east and northeast of Bandera Mountain, Mason Lake, and Mount Defiance, all of which I have previously hiked. They are, however, much easier to get to than my prior hikes in the area.
We arrived at the trailhead just before 7AM and found an empty parking lot. We'd have the trail to ourselves all the way to Ollalie Lake. A map of the area from the trailhead can be found in the first picture below.
The trail from the car up to Talapus Lake is a breeze. It's about 1000 feet of elevation gain over roughly 1.8 miles of hiking. Much of it follows right along Talapus Creek (it would be near impossible to get lost). There are many switchbacks but they aren't relentless or painful. Except for near the trailhead, the trail is mostly free of rocks which is a welcome change to the feet. We started hitting some snow as we neared the lake but it wasn't deep or challenging. Upon reaching the lake, we found it under a blanket of fog and clouds and there was unfortunately very little to see other than some new skunk grass.
We spent very little time at Talapus before hitting the trail for Ollalie. Like the trail to the first lake, the second trail was also quite easy. It's about 1.2 miles and climbs just 500 feet. Much of the trail was under snow and we reached the lake mostly by following the tracks of hikers that had gone before us earlier in the week. At times when we lost the tracks we simply stayed just left of the creek. We did don our microspikes after the snow became consistent. It wasn't necessary but it made walking on the snow easier. About halfway up to Ollalie Lake is the connector to the Pratt Lake trail. At the junction the bridge is out (and part of it is clearly visible downstream in the creek). The water is low enough right now for a very careful crossing. Pratt wasn't our destination so on we went.
Upon reaching Ollalie lake we took a break for pictures and a snack. The greyjays were out and they were very interested in my granola bar in particular. One aggressively went after it so I childishly taunted him with it between bites. The lake is about 70% covered with snow. There is a snowbridge at the mouth of the lake that doesn't appear to be at all stable. Also at the mouth of the lake was a nice little campsite. The clouds were moving very quickly so we waited for a while hoping they'd clear to improve our picture opportunities, but no sooner would we get blue sky then more clouds would roll in to block it.
On our way back down we stopped briefly at Talapus. Unlike earlier in the morning, the fog had lifted. There was still a blanket of high clouds overhead, however. There are a few pictures of Talapus below. It was only upon getting back to Talapus that we started to see other hikers (as well as a couple of Forest Service Rangers). We saw many hikers, including kids, headed up as we returned to the car and the lot was full when we got there.
Overall, this is a great little hike. I honestly don't even know if I broke a sweat. It was really nice to relax and take a more leisurely walk in the woods. I can see myself bring my boys back here later in the summer.