Wild and Easy
Picture-perfect lake at the base of Mount Adams.
Stroll the shore of a picturesque, nearly circular lake at the base of Mount Adams. A wide, well-graded path takes you around the circumference of this scenic, justifiably popular lake. Only people-powered or electric-motor boats are allowed on the lake, which helps preserve its wilderness ambiance. This short loop also connects with a loop through Takh Takh Meadow, to form a figure 8 about 2.5 total miles in length.
The Takhlakh Lake Loop trail is considered barrier-free, but presents a challenge to many wheelchair users due to its dirt surface and a few steep pitches around the back part of the loop, one of which reaches 15 percent. Check with the forest service for current surface conditions.
In the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. From the gas station Y at the south end of Trout Lake, take the east fork (that's the right fork as you head north toward "downtown"). At 1.1 miles, take the first left fork opportunity, Highway 23 toward Randle. Follow this paved two-lane for 19 miles, to its forked junction with Road 90. Take the right fork to stay on Road 23; the road turns to gravel in a few hundred feet. After 4.2 miles from the Road 90 junction, take Road 2329 to the right. Curiously, this road is paved. Follow signs toward Takhlakh Lake. After 1.5 miles, turn right into the Takhlakh Lake Campground. Stay right when the driveway into the park forks. You'll come to an information signboard just before the campground entrance. The day use area -- with picnic tables, pit toilets, and parking for hikers -- is just across the road from this signboard.
From Randle, take Road 25 south. After 1.0 mile, veer left at a fork, onto Road 23. After about 32 miles, turn left on Road 2329. Turn right into the Takhlakh Lake Campground after 1.5 miles.
From Cougar, take Road 90 east to its junction with Road 23. Take Road 23 north toward Randle. Turn right on Road 2329 after 4.2 miles. After 1.5 miles, turn right into the Takhlakh Lake Campground.
From the day use parking area, walk past the toilets to a bridged inlet crossing. This is our starting point for a counterclockwise loop.
Approaching the loop in this direction, you will first walk through the campground. Many side trails criss-cross between campsites and the lakeshore for the first 0.2 mile; pick the widest trail, stay near the lake, and keep wending your way to the right.
Pass through dense thickets of beargrass and huckleberry on a wide, well-graded path of smooth dirt topped with sand.
After about 0.3 mile, you have left the campground behind, and you approach a meadow. Several social trails veer off to the left toward the lake and into the meadow, but stay right on the widest path, which will take you away from the lake, along the right-hand side of a small meadow, and into the woods.
Just before 0.5 mile, you come to a Y. A spur trail leads some 200 feet to the left, to a viewpoint at the lakeshore. The main trail (marked "trail," with an arrow), goes to the right, away from the lake.
Cross a wetland drainage area on a series of boardwalks before coming to another junction. This is the access point for Takh Takh Meadow Trail 136, another loop just over a mile in length. Turn right to take this additional loop, resulting in a hike of about 2.5 miles; stay left (straight ahead) to continue on the 1.1-mile Takhlakh Lake Loop.
The remainder of the loop follows the lakeshore back to the parking area. Just before reaching your car, pause and savor the views of Mount Adams reflected in the lake. This side of the lake presents the best photo opportunities.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication