We all know and love Mount Rainier, but few people outside of the hiking community take the time to explore the trails surrounding Washington State’s second-most visited National Park. In 2014, 1.3 million people visited Mount Rainier National Park, with 225,887 entering through the eastern side at the Nisqually Entrance. While the majority of those people had an amazing time at Mount Rainier, nearly all of them missed out on a chance to see a gorgeous lake just miles from the base of this iconic volcano.
For all the love Mount Rainier gets locally, few really take the time to explore the National Park and surround region. A few hikers might be able to name a few trails in the area, but knowledge of the wonders around Mount Rainier is limited to those locals who have heard about awesome destinations. Luckily, we have a local hiking guru that tells tales of awesome adventures all around the region, and today he shared a new gem in the Nisqually Region of Mount Rainier- Bertha May Lake.
Bertha May Lake is named after the two daughters of Peter Hershey, one of the original homesteaders in the region.
Bertha May Lake is located west of Cora Lake and the ever-popular High Rock Lookout in the Sawtooth Region of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Bertha May is one of four lakes in the region, all accessible by well-maintained trails. South of the looming volcano and the waters of the Nisqually River, the trail to Bertha May Lake is considered an easy hike and a great trail for families and those looking to get into hiking. At just 5 miles in length round trip, this out and back trail is perfect for any weekend where you can’t decide what to hike.
Our local colleague, Jeff Knesebeck of Enumclaw, describes the trail:
The hike to Bertha Lake is short in distance, but high in reward. The three times I’ve been there, I’ve had the lake to myself. Awesome camping. The road up is very rough however and high clearance is recommended. The water is very clear, blueish green, and has a great campsite on the north shore.
As Jeff’s pictures prove, the trail to Bertha May Lake is picturesque, highlight by a fantastic blend of old-growth forests and deep, clear, blueish green waters. Set in a hole, filled with ancient trees and surrounded by the ridges of the Sawtooth region, Bertha May Lake is perfect for fishing, camping or just escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. The lake is perfect for fishing, and was last stocked with nearly 5,000 rainbow trout in the last 14 years.
5 miles round trip with 500 feet elevation gain. The highest point is 4,200 feet and is usually snow free by June. However, as of April 30th, 2015, the lake and trail is snow free. No pass is needed and directions to the trailhead can be found here. To get to Bertha May Lake from the trailhead, follow the trail markers for the Teely Creek Trail. You will need a vehicle with high clearance to get to the trailhead, or be willing to hit a few deep potholes in smaller cars.