Melakwa Lake is one of the prime jewels of the I-90 hikes near Snoqualmie Pass. It isn’t a lonely hike, and on summer weekends the parking lot is full long before 9 am, often involving an even longer hike on on the road. Go early, or go on a weekday if you can. The biggest crowd will be to Denny Creek waterslide (the smooth slab rock in the creek, where the trail crosses). This is an easy dayhike for families to cool off in. Be wary of ground hornets on the way here, along the trail, some years they are bad, as you walk under the massive spires of the I-90 bridge far above you.
The trail picks up steam and starts to gain elevation as you leave the creek and forest. There is lots to look at as the trail climbs up. Keekwulee Falls are passed, and the trail continues up, switchbacking. The views looking down towards I-90 grow with every step. Finally the trail quits switchbacking and crosses the creek a last time (much smaller than before, unless melt out is happening).
The trail pushes up to forested Hemlock Pass and the ridge is made.
It’s just a short hike now, pass the turnoff to Pratt and you pop out to the lake.
Though you might pass a trail to a privy first.
A steep climb up the hill goes to the pit toilet, open air, with a view down. It’s not private, but you can see before the people coming up see you.
The hike follows the left side of the lake and wanders above it.
It comes to a space between upper Melakwa Lake and big Melakwa Lake. Upper is big early in the season from snow melt and dries up over the summer quite a bit. It has a grassy area in the middle that is perfect for a lunch break before heading back down if you are dayhiking.
The outlet stream into the main lake.
The best campsites are on the far side of the lake. (There is a tiny lake hidden behind it all, from snow melt.)
Karen and I set up camp in a pretty shaded spot, high above the lake.
The camping areas are very popular, but it was quiet as night approached. Sitting outside was so nice, and we met a nice lady who was camping below us, and we chatted into the wee hours.
Sunset over Melakwa Pass.
Morning came early and was so peaceful. A relaxed breakfast and coffee, then we packed up and headed out.