Mountain lake hikes offer spots to cool off — less than 3 hours from Tri-Cities

Diamond Lake is a challenging four-mile hike on the rocky Polallie Ridge Trail north of Roslyn, through beautiful forest.
Diamond Lake is a challenging four-mile hike on the rocky Polallie Ridge Trail north of Roslyn, through beautiful forest.

The hot weather in Eastern Washington makes you want to take a swim in a cool clean mountain lake or river.

The Cascades north and west of Tri-Cities offer plenty of opportunities to find hiking trails that take you right to the water you dream of.

You just hop on Interstate 82 and then keep heading west on Interstate 90 in Ellensburg toward Snoqualmie Pass.

There are lots of options available at every exit off the highway starting from north of Ellensburg to the top of the pass.

If you are camping overnight, there also are numerous U.S. Forest Service campgrounds to choose from.

Major trail heads within 10 to 15 miles of the highway offer day hiking and overnight backpacking.

If you are looking to be near the water, remember that means mosquitoes. So be prepared and bring and use bug spray.

Here are a few options to consider:

Gold Creek Pond

This flat ADA-accessible paved loop trail goes around a man-made body of water formed out of a gravel pit and surrounded by majestic mountains.

Just a mile off I-90 at Hyak, it’s a wonderful place for hiking with small children, for parents pushing strollers or people needing a wheelchair.

Salmon La Sac Road, at Exit 74, opens up the areas north of Roslyn along Highway 903 and there are several well-maintained campgrounds along the road.

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Swimmers in the Cooper River at the Forest Service Salmon la Sac Campground. Courtesy of Paul Krupin

Cooper Lake

The Cooper River Trail starts at the Forest Service Salmon La Sac Campground winds through the valley bottom right next to the Cooper River.

It is 2.5 miles to Cooper Lake. It doesn’t have views but there are plenty of places to take a dip in the water along the trial.

Pete Lake

The trail starts at the northwest corner of Cooper Lake and goes 5 miles to Pete Lake.

You can also drive to the trailhead along Nat Forest Development Road 46. This is a wonderful hike for kids and dogs on leash. The views from the lake are great.

Diamond Lake

For those who want a good workout, the more difficult Polallie Ridge Trail goes climbs four miles up and some 3,000 feet to Diamond Lake.

This hike, which goes through beautiful forest and offers some views of the mountains, has lots of steep inclines and descents.

It is a rocky terrain and you should bring water, hiking poles and sturdy hiking boots. The lake is a beautiful place to have lunch.

Hyas Lake

From Salmon La Sac, you take Forest Road 4330 12 miles up a rough gravel road. It can be done in a low-clearance vehicle slowly and carefully.

The 3.4-mile out and back trail begins at a parking lot, has campsites and sandy spots along the lake. The lake is an easy hike to get to and to walk and offers year-round trout fishing.

Paul Krupin is an avid local outdoor enthusiast and a member of the Intermountain Alpine Club www.imacnw.org . He can be reached at pjkrupin@gmail.com.