Snow Lake

I joined Gary for a mid week after work hike to Snow Lake. He had just returned from a month long vacation in Europe. Our plan to meet in Issaquah at 2:30 pm blew up when he noticed that the I-90 floating bridge would be closed until 2:40 pm for the Blue Angels to practice for this weekend's show at Seafair. Every other route was filled up with folks who would normally have been on I-90. I took about 1:25 to make a normal 35 minute drive that time of day. We met at 3:20 pm. We headed up to Snoqualmie Pass and drove the road to Alpental. It was no surprise that there were dozens of cars in the lot. At least it was better than on a weekend. We were on the trail just after 4:00 pm. Due to the crowding this is a trail I only hike every three or four years. Usually I go on to Gem Lake and Wright Mountain. We did not have the time or inclination to push for that this day.

The trail starts up a series of wooden steps then begins the long traverse up the valley. In and out of forest at first then mostly out in the open. It was a warm day but not too hot. Right from the start we met groups coming down. Groups of one or two or eight or more. As we went up we accounted for a lot of the cars in the lot as more folks filed on by. At the spot where the old route continued forward the route switches back. A lot of the way from here to the ridge top was blasted out of solid rock. It was easy enough to go up but meant a lot of rocky steps coming down.

The route goes right over the ridge top and drops 400' down to the lake. After the first switchback we had views down to Snow Lake. It was just after 5:00 pm and the sunlight was still on the lake. Much of the trail down was in the shade. After all the sun on the other side of the ridge I liked the cool shade. Down at the bottom the trail reaches a junction. We went left and down to the old cabin site. The lower part was built of rock and it is still standing. We dropped to a viewpoint just above the lake and took a break. Not a bad spot for an early dinner. Snow is a very big lake and deserving of the crowds it attracts. Since it was only a little over three miles to this point we decided to go on a bit farther. A backpacking group arrived. There were not many folks left at the lake by this time.

We followed the trail as it followed the shoreline. Often well above the lake and occasionally dropping down to near lake level. We saw some wildflowers on the hike up. A few Indian paintbrush, columbine, asters, and more. At the lake there was a good display of beargrass in bloom. The route goes to a nice viewpoint above the lake. It drops down then climbs 100' up and away from the lake. Up there we had some views out to the north. The Rock Creek Trail that drops to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River is soon met.  The route turns back to the lake and drops down to the lake outlet. We crossed over and took some photos of the lake. This was our turnaround point. It was now 6:30 pm. Crossing back over the outlet Gary noticed the rock dam just downstream. We walked on over to it. In front of the rocks are logs held in place with rebar. I don't know what the story of this structure is.

We headed up then down and up again to the viewpoint where we had the last break of the day. More water, some views, and just enjoying the views of the lake. We hung around for awhile and it was 7:10 pm when we finally started back. We rounded the lake and climbed up the 400' to the ridge top. Photos of the lake were now much different as the sun was completely behind the ridge. Back on the south side of the ridge we picked up some more sunshine. The descent was a bit of a pain for my knees but it went well enough. We passed several groups of day hikers still coming up as we descended. If they went to the lake they would be coming down in the dark. On the way down Gary noticed a lone tiger lily in bloom. The only one we saw. I have seen at least one every week for over two months now.

We made it out well before dark at 8:40 pm. By the time we reached Gary's car at about 9:20 pm it was almost dark. I did not get home until 9:50 pm. The traffic in Seattle was no problem at that hour. We do headlamp hikes after work all winter long. It is nice to be able to drive much farther into the mountains and hike to a much more interesting destination than Tiger Mountain. All that and still getting off the trail well before dark. Snow Lake is a very nice hike and a great destination. The crowds are more than I care for on the weekends but a mid week hike is so much better. Especially later in the day. Based on all the folks coming down as we went up there was a substantial crowd there a few hours earlier. All in all, it was a great way to break up the work week.

Snow Lake Parking Lot
On The Trail
Guye Peak
Snow Lake
Wright Mountain
Gary On The Trail
Descending To Lake
Old Cabin At Lake
Break At The Lake
Backlit Beargrass
View North
Bridge Over Outlet
Look Back Up Lake
Gary On Rock Dam
View Of Outlet Creek
Chair Peak
Another View North
Heading Around :Lake
Sun Is Setting
Hiking Up To Ridge
HDR Exposure
Heading Down
Tiger Lily
Emptying Out
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2016