Sometimes a trail can be a destination in and of itself, and the Greenwater Lakes Trail is a perfect example. Starting from the large parking lot, the wide trail winds through an old-growth forest of hemlock, fir, and cedar as it parallels the Greenwater River. It is a fast 2-mile hike with minimal elevation gain to Greenwater Lakes, a pair of small, shallow, and marshy lakes that are popular with local fisherman. There are quite a few nice campsites and fire rings scattered around the lakes and along the river. This quick day hiking destination is a great choice for families with young kids or hikers looking for a half-day outing.
If you plan on enjoying a longer day, proceed to Echo Lake. Continue hiking around the Greenwater Lakes and cross the river a few times using the beautiful log bridges. The trail gets a bit steeper after the final log bridge. Follow signs that indicate the main trail, as some side trails lead down to campsites, and soon you will reach a split. Follow signs for Echo Lake as you hike along the mossy trail that follows the rushing river. At about 2 miles from the split the trail starts to get a bit steep, switchbacking up the side of the mountain. Once at the top you will begin your descent into the lake basin, and at 7 miles from the trailhead you will reach Echo Lake. Don't be surprised to find other hikers there in spite of the 7-mile hike. Fishermen work from the bank and backpackers fill the campsites. This is a great lake for swimming in the summer.