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Snow Lake -- Alpine Lakes Wilderness Hiking


Snow Lake Trail sign
We made it!

 How's the hike? Amazing! My coworker was suggesting hikes and said this was one of their favorites. I instantly said "I'm gonna have to try that soon!" and instead of just saying things like most people do, I went to Snow Lake that very weekend! It was a beautiful day to do so, rising into the lower 50s. Not too cold, but not too hot that I would sweat all over. Oh wait...I did sweat all over anyway because that's just how I am. My Osprey daylite let me down. I took it off my back to snag a drink and my back was SOAKED. I thought our waters that we packed leaked inside the pack. When we opened my backpack to pristine dry conditions, imagine my shocked surprise. Good lord I need help. 

Fungus on a tree Snow Lake
Hey buddy, don't think I didn't see you growing in there.


Hikes like Snow Lake are my favorite. This was definitely one of my favorite of the year. It has a perfect mix of everything. There's challenging inclines (with numerous switchbacks of course), beautiful mountain views, beautiful forest views, running water streams, and a beautiful lake to rest at before heading back. 

Reflecting Pond Snow Lake
A wonderful reflecting pond on the trail before the lake.


This trail is right off of I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass. It shouldn't be confused with the Snow Lake or "Snow Lakes" that is part of the Enchantments! Snow Lake is part of the greater Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and is in Washington's Alpine Lake Wilderness. Arguably the most beautiful area of the state. The Snow Lake Trail is the most visited and used in the Alpine Lake Wilderness.

Animal on Snow Lake
This little guy scurried out in front of us on the trail. yay wildlife. we never see any besides birds squirrels and deer.


Yes because it's beautiful, but because the trailhead is EASILY accessible by vehicle during the non-snowy season. There's not 3 miles of unkept forest service road that some hikes require you to take. It's not the kind of drive that makes you wonder if your suspension will survive. In fact there's actually a decently sized parking lot to park in, this due mostly in part to the fact that the lot serves as parking for Alpental Ski Area during the snowy months. 

Weeping Rock Walls
It's okay rock wall, it'll be ok.


The hike starts across the street the parking lot and immediately starts an incline. It's decently steep for a short period of time (maybe a quarter mile?) then continues for the next mile as a gradual and doable incline. The rest of the way to the highest point has some fairly steep grades intertwined with numerous switchbacks as you climb and climb and start to get some great sweeping mountain views. 

Stream Snow Lake
Cute stream leading to the lake I bet


Before the mountain views you're met with a beautiful forest occasionally stepping through running water depending on the season. Once you reach the highest point, you actually have to start going back down in elevation to get down to the lake. You're welcomed with some stunning views of the lake as it opens up on certain parts of the walk down. There was no snow when we were there though! It was a hot summer! Only weeks after visiting I believe Snow Lake got its first flakes of the season though! Good things come to people who wait. 

Autumn Colors Snow Lake
Insane Fall Views on the trail!


There is a little spur from the trail leading to a large rock that overlooks the lake from a high vantage point. If it's not busy you might be able to snag a spot to sit and glance out of the lake and relax.

Boulder Field Snow Lake
There's also a huge boulder field to walk through. The path does a decent job at clearing space for you, but you will still have to step over rocks, carefully. Not quite a scramble. More like an amble. Another cool feature of the trail.

Walk down to Snow Lake
There she is in all her glory!
The mountainous backdrop and the crystal clear waters of the lake were insanely relaxing. Despite it being fairly busy with people we were able to claim a rock to sit on by the water and have a snack and drink before trekking back up and out. I would definitely love to come back with a flotation device and just chill on the lake all day. They lake is stocked as well, so you can fish from it.

Snow Lake Shore


It's a 7 mile out and back trail and at some point, especially when you're trying to hydrate, you're gonna want to relieve yourself. On the way back from the lake we remembered seeing a sign that said "Toilet" with an arrow. Oh thank goodness! We'll head up there! Kinda weird for them to have an outhouse in the middle of nowhere, but we'll take it! Boy was I wrong. 

toilet sign
Oh perfect!


  As a pee-shy individual this was just sadistic. Women, maybe consider bringing a SheWee??? I'm all for rustic but this was unexpected. You can tell I like the outdoors but I am NOT an outdoorsman. x)

SNow lake toilet
WELP. That's the toilet. A wooden box around a hole in the ground. Fantastic.


Here is a concrete cabin that used to stand! All that remains is what appears to be a fireplace. 

Snow lake cabin remains

The ruins of the cabin at Snow Lake trace back to the 1930s, when Aldrich W. Fenton, a timber cruiser and son of Seattle pioneers, built it after purchasing the lakeshore property from the Northern Pacific Railway. He, along with his sons, constructed the cabin, using pack horses to transport materials and felling trees for timbers. However, the cabin collapsed in the heavy snows of 1950, leaving behind the concrete-and-rock foundation that still remains as a testament to its past.

snow lake
turning around and going home. bye snow lake!


This is definitely hike we'll be back to several times over! You can even continue on to Gem Lake on the trail if you have it in you! This isn't one of Washington's best hikes for no reason! A great autumn hike!

Alpine Lakes Wilderness sign on the trail

Tree fungus
More funghi

Tree mold
Man, everybody and everyTHING loves this place I guess!

Mountain Views Snow Lake


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