This Saturday, the weather was 65° and sunny–much too beautiful to not go out hiking. We decided on Talapus and Olallie Lakes off Exit 45 in North Bend, which is an approximately 6 mile round-trip trek featuring very well-paved trails and a modest incline. To get to the trailhead, you have to drive up a relatively windy gravel road which could get slippery in the winter–drive carefully, as there are a couple switchbacks with steep dropoffs on the outside edges. At the trailhead, there is a parking lot big enough for at least 20 cars, a restroom, and a self-serve pay station for anyone who doesn’t have a Northwest Forest Pass.
The first couple miles of the hike are fairly easy, though there are a few steeper stretches. Be careful of the many roots along the trail, and of the muddy sections (at least this time of year)–there were parts where almost my entire boot sunk through. I would highly recommend waterproof boots and/or gaiters, but they’re not strictly necessary. There are several places where you can see running water alongside the trail, and Talapus Lake comes into view much sooner than you might expect. Talapus Lake is relatively small, but very pretty and there wasn’t anyone there when we arrived around 9 AM. We ended up continuing on to Olallie Lake, which is about a mile past Talapus. It was such a gorgeous lake! The water was incredibly blue, and there were plenty of great spaces near the water where anyone can set up camp (but no campfires). There were several other parties at the lake, but we were able to find a secluded spot to sit and enjoy the beautiful weather.
This hike immediately became one of my favorites for beginner hikers who are interested in an easy introduction into the PNW outdoors. Work parties have done such an amazing job at maintaining the trails here, making the majority of the hike accessible even for children (and dogs!). A solid 7.5/10!