This popular, 7.8-mile hike in Alpine Lakes Wilderness follows Denny Creek past waterfalls, rocky crags, and talus fields to a pristine mountain lake. The 3.8-mile trek to the lake starts off easily, leaving Denny Creek Campground and winding north to the first creek crossing. Shortly after the creek, the route travels beneath the elevated I-90 freeway and veers northwest into the valley.
After a mile, hike past the Denny Creek Waterslide—large slabs of granite, worn smooth by the creek. Half a mile later, stop for stunning views of the misty, 85-foot Keekwulee Falls. Past the falls, follow a series of switchbacks up steep slopes, then traverse wide talus fields en route to Hemlock Pass. Crest the pass at mile 3.5, then continue north for the remaining 0.4 mile to the lake.
Tucked between Chair Peak and Kaleetan Peak, Melakwa Lake is a prime place to relax and take in the scene. Picnic on the grassy shore, or continue north 1,000 feet to visit Upper Melakwa Lake. (Adventurous hikers can push on to the base of Kaleetan Peak and tackle the rough scramble to the top.) Follow the same route back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Nathan and Jeremy Barnes, hikingwithmybrother.com