The trail to Avalanche Lake is one of the most popular, and hence the busiest, in the park. Part of its draw is likely due to the Trail of Cedars, a lovely short jaunt that is entirely wheelchair accessible and is the introductory trail to get to Avalanche Lake. However, after walking the paths myself, I think it is safe to say that the relative ease and accessibility of the hike are not the main reasons for its popularity. No, in my mind the trail's popularity can be attributed more to the following:
1) Avalanche Gorge- within minutes of beginning the hike, the trail opens up and follows Avalanche Gorge. An absolutely breathtaking sight, the Gorge is composed of dark rocks covered in blankets of soft green moss, which contrast with the frothing light blue river that constantly rushes past. Words can't do it justice- let's suffice to say that I spent probably well over a half an hour shooting the gorge on the way up to the lake and quite a few more on the way back.
2) The Trail itself- A relatively easy hike, the trail weaves up and down through beautiful woods, opening up occasionally to allow views of towering cliffs and temporary waterfalls fed by the snow-melt above.
3) Avalanche Lake- this seems obvious, since the lake is your destination, but goodness let me tell you, if Avalanche Gorge takes one's breath away than I don't know how to accurately describe the beauty that is Avalanche Lake. Crystal clear, relatively shallow in most areas, but turning a brilliant rich blue as it plunges to unknown depths, Avalanche Lake is a vision in its own right. Yet its beauty is not limited to its waters, for it is surrounded on three sides by towering cliffs adorned with waterfalls and clad in a rich blanket of evergreens.
A scene from a Romantic era painting, the lake has only one downfall- it is so gosh darn popular that peaceful reflection upon its loveliness is only possible if one finds a way to block out the screams of children and the chattering of your many (many) fellow hikers. We went after the noontime hour, and the shore was packed, but I think that perhaps a morning trip would allow for more peaceful viewing.