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Hiking Annette Lake Trail -- Snoqualmie Pass Region


Annette Lake was not a hike I had planned for in advance. In fact, I think we planned on potentially doing Wallace Falls, Twin Falls, or a completely different hike today. It IS Mother's Day however, so we weren't entirely sure how busy the trails would be. On one hand everyone could be at brunch having mimosas and celebrating with their mother, too busy to hike. On the other hand, this is the PNW so #1, of course mom is going to want to hike on HER day, it's in her blood. And #2, everyone around here is a transplant anyway so mom is probably 1000 miles away and you simply mailed her a Bath and Body Works gift card or something, right? I don't know. 

Since it's May, I knew we could start pushing east a bit more into the Cascades without fear of areas being closed due to snow, or trails being open but being too snow covered to hike without extra gear. So I scrolled over to the Snoqualmie Pass region on Alltrails and up popped Annette Lake. I have a rather sizeable saved list on AllTrails, and somehow this was not one of them. (Sidebar, AllTrails is great, but if you live in Washington, please support the Washington Trails Association, they do excellent work). 

After doing the extended Poo Poo Point trail hike the day before, I wasn't sure what kind of intensity I wanted in a hike. Mailbox Peak? Yeah no. But the pictures, and the stats just kind of hit right for me, so I showed my GF who agreed that it seemed fun and doable. And so we hopped in the car and drove East! And like countless amazing hikes in the region, it's right off of I-90. Like, almost right off of I-90. You get off on exit 47, onto National Forest Road 55, which merges into Asahel Curtis Road. This road takes you straight to the trailhead. 

Annette Lake Trailhead Sign
Sign at trailhead. Looked a bit sparse. A bit scant. A bit shortwinded. Not sure what's up with this..but it wasn't a great first impression. Thankfully first impressions aren't everything. Because it was a GREAT hike.

I was curious, though, to know why this bumpy, kinda janky road, had a proper name to it. Turns out, Asahel Curtis was a famed PNW photographer in the very late 1800s and early 1900s, photographing many iconic regions of Western Washington we all know and love today. Dude was the original Travel Blogger or instagrammer. Pretty awesome! The road itself had some major potholes and was a bumpy ride, but thankfully was a decently short trip to the parking area. We've had worse. All you need to know is that there IS A VAULT TOILET at the trailhead! Hooray! Small bladders unite. After my 20oz of black cold brew I could let loose before getting onto the trail. That's the most important part. 

Annette Lake Trail
Start of Annette Lake Trail -- It was well marked along the way with those orange diamonds. Beautiful scenery

This is inside of the Snoqualmie-Mt Baker National Forest and technically requires a Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead. There were no signs regarding this unless we missed it. We hung our interagency America The Beautiful Pass which covers national forests just in case. We actually had a guy at the trailhead ask us if we needed to hang specific signage in our vehicle.  He had a University of Washington hat on so I assumed he was familiar enough with the area, but I mentioned it was national forest and probably needed a NW Forest Pass at the minimum. He said "Oh well, too late at this point". I admire that energy, whatever it is. 

This was a great trail. Definitely moderately difficult, with a moderate to hard lean at certain points. We had to stop several times, out of breath on the incline. But we're not the most in shape people in the world, so take with a grain of salt.

The trail was roughly 6.6 miles (however once you get to the lake you can walk around and discover different areas around the lake that will add to your total time and distance for sure). Total elevation gain is almost 2000, sitting around 1980 feet. 

waterfall on the trail
Beauty happens in an instant. Awesome little bridge with a waterfall underneath it.

Annette Lake Trail falls
This is right at the beginning of the trail! I'd walk miles to see this! So awesome!

Annette Lake Rocks
Rocks along the trail

Mushrooms growing on a tree
That is a pretty serious fungal growth! Mushrooms on a tree!

mountain views
Mountain views start to appear

tall trees and rocks
Real pretty tall trees and rocks along the trail.

Cracked tree on trail
Are we safe?? Hurry under the tree before it falls on us all!

rock formations
idk, just really liked all these rocks arranged very specifically like this

Waterfall out of a tree
Is that...yes, that's a waterfall using a tree as a flow point.

Take the boardwalk
There were lots and lots of wooden boardwalk steps on this trail. It's well known that boardwalks on a trail help control erosion and compaction. I suppose that's what we're doing here.

light water flow
There's water lightly flowing from here. The rocks look neat though!

cool barren trees
Those are some cool looking trees!

Western Trilliums are beautiful! Not to be confused with Trillium brewing company on the East Coast making some top notch IPAs.

waterfall stream
Oh look, a waterfall stream that you have to cross. Love these.

snow on the trail
There's snow on the trail?! AllTrails said it's mostly clear of snow! Cool! I wonder if there will be more as we climb higher?

waterfall stream trail
Another cool waterfall stream crossing on the trail. More snow ahead!

"Avalache Chute" #1. Uh oh. We read a sign prior to this saying we may happen upon Avalanche Chutes, where avalanches start above the tree line and cut through the trees below. This also happens to cut through the trail as well. This happened at least half a dozen times on the way to Annette Lake. Some of the avalanche chute passings were easy enough, some of them we're super sketchy. One wrong move and you're sledding on your butt down the rest of the mountain. Good thing my GF brought poles. I didn't. But we shared and used one. That provided some minimum stability on some of these at least.

Mountain Views Annette Lake Trail
Beautiful mountain views from the avalanche chute areas though!
avalanche chute crossing
another avalanche chute crossing

mountain views annette lake
The mountain views just keep getting better!

all trails lied
"Almost no snow on the trail!" AllTrails lies again! Look at this! Super fun though!

avalanche chute
Another avalanche chute to pass through. There were like two I didn't take a pic of, because I needed both hands to get through it, haha.

Snow at Annette Lake
Okay we made it passed all the Avalanche Chutes. Now there's just a lot of snow up here. Super pretty!

So much snow!
There's so much snow up here! Way more than we expected. Happy surprises.

annette lake
There she is! Annette Lake! The lake was snow covered and still MOSTLY frozen over. The partially thawed look looks really neat. And hopeful -- like summer is coming!

slushy ice on the lake
Slushy ice on the lake. Still has a ways to thaw!

Annette Lake
This was such a cool sight to see!

heart rock
I love you too rock. Thanks for the cool hike!

so much green
So much greenery!

SKUNK CABBAGE. Love seeing these on the trails near water

Beer on the Balcony
We didn't have time to go to a brewery tonight, so I just went home and had a beer on the balcony. Why not. Other Half glass with a Fast Fashion IPA. Excellence.


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