This short trail offers a pleasant woodland hike along a plunging creek to a pair of small lakes, each set deeply in individual mountain cirques. Climbing moderately through conifer-canopied forest, the trail tracks Talapus Creek to two of its headwater lakes, Talapus and Olallie. The trail is shady but sun-dappled throughout and begins its ascent through young forest that, although logged not long ago, already begins to exhibit the character of more mature forest. Near the lakes, a few old-growth cedars, remnants of the forest past, mingle with the succeeding generation. During the mountain spring, the boglands that fringe each lake nourish moisture-loving wildflowers not often seen in the surrounding woodland and alpine climes. Hermit thrushes (Catharus guttatus) are common to the area — on spring and early summer evenings, listen for their flute-like calls mingling with the voice of chattering creek waters.
Given their relative ease of access, both lakes — and especially Talapus — are popular hiking destinations. To avoid the weekend throngs, try timing your hike for a less-congested week day. Near the lakes, snow drifts deeply and lingers late — sometimes, almost until summer. Be sure to check recent trip reports for current conditions before setting out.
From a junction along the trail between Talapus and Olallie lakes, a side trail eventually leads to several other alpine lakes, including Island Lake, which births Talapus Creek on a ridge high above Talapus Lake. To visit all three of Talapus Creek’s headwater lakes (Talapus, Olallie, and Island lakes) the round-trip distance is 10.80 miles/17.40 km (although, along the way to Island Lake, you will probably be tempted to follow signage further to the nearby Pratt and Rainbow lakes).