Location: Selkirk Mountains Northeastern Washington
Land Agency: Colville National Forest
Roundtrip: 9.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 650 feet
Access: From Metaline Falls, Washington drive 2 miles north on SR 31. Turn right onto Sullivan Lake Road. Continue on this road for 4.7 miles before turning left onto FR 22. Proceed 0.4 mile, then turn right onto the spur to the East Sullivan Lake Campground. The trailhead is 0.25 mile farther.
Contact: Colville National Forest
Good to know: kid-friendly, dog-friendly, exceptional autumn colors, car-camping nearby
With an elevation of 2,600 feet, the hiking season is long at Sullivan Lake, one of the larger lakes within the Colville National Forest. A pleasant lakeside trail hugs its eastern shore making for a great hiking destination from early spring to late fall. And while early season flowers and late season golden larches and aspens are good enticements to hit this trail, summer will most definitely do as well! The Lakeshore Trail offers plenty of places along the way to take a refreshing dip in one of northeastern Washington’s largest mountain lakes. So consider a return in warmer weather.
The trail traverses pristine shoreline along the base of hovering Hall Mountain, where bighorn sheep and the occasional grizzly hang out. The trail connects two fine lakeside campgrounds. A weekend car camp trip to Sullivan Lake makes a wonderful getaway—with not only the option to hike right from your camp, but also to paddle.
Begin in cool forest and slowly climb to a scenic bluff; one of several along the way offering sweeping views of the lake. En route to the bluff you’ll pass two short side trails that offer diversions. The trail to the left makes a little nature loop. The trail to the right goes directly to the East Sullivan Campground.
From the bluff, the trail enters a refreshing forest of cedar, fir and hemlock and crosses Hall Creek (often dry by late summer). It’s then a short descent back to lake level. With a few ups and downs, the trail travels along the lakeshore through a lovely forest dominated by birch reminiscent of my native New Hampshire. And when the resident loons begin to cry in the summer months, you may just feel like you are on Golden Pond in the Granite State! Hidden coves and quiet beaches make for great lunch, swim and nap spots along the way.
The well-built trail crosses Noisy Creek (pretty quiet by late summer) then climbs to another scenic bluff. It’s then a short descent to a peaceful little cove and a final push to its southern terminus at the Noisy Creek Campground. At Noisy Creek, fill your water bottles; then return, enjoying the entire 4.6 mile trail once again.
Sullivan Lake is one of the featured hikes in my (and Rich Landers) Day Hiking Eastern Washington (Mountaineers Books). Pick up your copy today and start exploring 125 choice trails east of the Columbia and Okanogan rivers.