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    Gem Lake via Snow Lake and High Lakes Trail

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    17.7 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    814 m
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    Directions to Trailhead

    The Gem Lake via Snow Lake and High Lakes Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This hard trail is very rewarding and one that you’ll see many repeat hikers on. The trail gives access to the most visited lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, providing a beautiful objective. Tucked underneath the 610 m Chair Peak and boasting crystal-clear water, this lake is captivating to visit, and Gem Lake is the perfect resting point before your return.

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    Route Description for Gem Lake via Snow Lake and High Lakes Trail

    Gem Lake and Snow Lake make a perfect pair to visit on this lovely hike. Snow Lake is the most visited lake in the region, and its crystalline waters flanked by a mountain ridge will enchant you. Gem Lake is a perfect way to get away from the crowds for a second before turning back. Because of its beauty and relative ease of access, this trail sees plenty of traffic. We recommend visiting outside of peak times if you’re able to.

    Please note that this hike is unsafe in the winter due to the presence of avalanche chutes that cross the trail. Please only attempt this hike in the winter if you have a solid knowledge of avalanche safety and the proper equipment.

    The hike begins at a shared trailhead with Snoqualmie Mountain Trail. You’ll be able to see Chair Peak in the distance as you cross several streams on an even, easy traverse.

    Continue for 1.2 km, where the trail begins to gain more elevation. You’ll gain about 152 m over 1.1 km before rising over a saddle with a view of Snow Lake. Some hikers find themselves underwhelmed at the appearance of the lake from this angle, but keep going! It gets much better further along the trail.

    Drop down the saddle, reaching an inlet to the lake. Cross the stream beside the lakeshore. Walking around the lakeshore, keep left at a junction near the campsites. You’ll be on High Lakes Trial now, crossing another creek on a log bridge and approaching a few zig-zag turns. A nice viewpoint over the lake lets you know you’re almost there.

    Head down to the lakeshore. Rest here before retracing your steps back to the trailhead.

    Getting to the Gem Lake via Snow Lake and High Lakes Trail Trailhead

    The trailhead for the Snow Lake hike is at the end of the road at the Alpental Ski Area parking lot. The parking lot fills to capacity many weekends, so try to arrive early.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground

      Snow Lake

    • When to do


    • Pets allowed

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly

      Older Children only

    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Gem Lake via Snow Lake and High Lakes Trail Elevation Graph

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    Gem Lake via Snow Lake and High Lakes Trail Reviews

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