Unlike much of the surrounding wilderness, Lake Twentytwo and the virgin forest that cloaks its watershed remain untouched by logging or fire and have been protected as a research natural area since 1947. The trail up to and around the lake climbs moderately through subtly varying ecological layers, ranging from plush mosses to stony barrens and accented throughout by massive conifer columns. Water is a consistent feature. Rivulets frequently cross the trail, often co-opting it for short distances before slipping elsewhere out of sight. Glimpses of the South Fork Stillaguamish River appear through the forest fringe before the trail turns upward, never meandering far from Twentytwo Creek’s many boisterous waterfalls, collectively known as Twentytwo Creek Falls. At the foot of Mount Pilchuck‘s sheer northern face, the trail loops around the lakeshore, continuing through distinctly varying habitats including bogland, boulderfields, and subalpine forest.
Lake Twentytwo’s unusual name is thought to have derived from numeric designations on early surveyor’s maps before English names had been assigned to the local water bodies, with this particular lake and creek never receiving any other moniker. The lake’s now official designation flouts standard English punctuation, with several other iterations also in common use, including Lake Twenty-two, Lake Twenty Two, and Lake 22. The names for its creek and falls follow suit.
Although wet and rocky in places, the trail is heavily used. Be prepared with appropriate footwear and, especially on weekends, expect the company of fellow hikers. Boot paths lead to views of several of the falls, but care should be exercised when exploring off the main trail, as the side trails are rugged and often end at ledges obscured by foliage. Enjoy the cheery voice of water cascading everywhere as you climb to its very source beneath the mountaintop rafters.