Hikes in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is one of the premier outdoor adventure destinations of Washington State, comprising over 1.7 million acres of pristine scenery. The forests are anchored by the towering Mount Baker and Glacier Peak, which rise thousands of feet above the adjacent peaks. With wide carpets of colorful wildflowers, cascading waterfalls, and old-growth forests, this park is a dream for hikers and adventurers of all ages and one of the most visited sites in the Pacific Northwest. With 62% of the state’s population living within a 112.7 km drive of the forest, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is the most visited national forest in the country. Hikers, bikers, snowshoers, and campers flock here.
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest was established beginning in 1897 and finalized in 1974. Sections of the park, mostly the north and east, are exceptionally rugged and protect over 600,000 acres of old-growth forest. With protected wilderness areas covering nearly half of the forest’s area, the natural beauty of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie can be preserved for generations to come and the flora and fauna of the region can enjoy a permanent haven.
All you have to do now is pick your adventure! With a wide array of trails to hike, we’ve put together a list of our favorite hikes in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to help you plan your trip. This is just the start, though- there’s so much to see here!
12 Epic Hikes in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
There are so many hikes to choose from in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, it can be daunting to try and choose! We’ve picked out some of our favorite trails in all corners of the park to help you start to plan your adventure.
There is a trail for every hiker here. There are family-friendly trails, ADA-accessible trails, more challenging hikes, and long multi-day backpacking trips on offer, so you’ll be able to choose the right one no matter what you’re seeking. With lots of ancient trees to see and plenty of waterfalls hidden in the forests, you’ll enjoy a distinctly Pacific Northwest feel on most of these hikes. If you’re looking for an epic summit ascent, you can find that too! Or, if you’re just wanting to get some steps in with a stroller, you can do just that.
No matter which hike you take, you’ll be treated to splendid views of the Cascades, countless flowers, waterfalls, clear lakes, and mossy forests.
- Lake 22 Trail: The hike on Lake 22 is a popular choice in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie, and for good reason. This moderate hike is doable for many skill levels, the lake is serene, and the forest leading up to the lake is mature and beautiful.
- Franklin Falls Trail: Waterfall hikes are some of the best to enjoy in Washington, and Franklin Falls Trail is hugely popular with locals and visitors to the area alike. This simple, quick trail is a joy for families and hikers of all levels. With no difficult or technical sections and only modest elevation gain, little ones and beginners are especially likely to enjoy this trail.
- Rattlesnake Ledge Trail: This trail begins at the calm shores of Rattlesnake Lake and climbs up the side of Rattlesnake Mountain to a ledge with a jaw-dropping view. The Rattlesnake Ledge Trail is a bang-for-your-buck outing and a great choice for hikers who want elevated views. While delivering a great viewpoint, you won’t need to contend with any technically difficult sections.
- Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene: Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene are two stunning viewpoints that occupy the same trail, making for a very impressive hike. While this hike is considered strenuous by many, the cascading falls and the peaceful lakeshore are worth the effort.
- Wallace Falls via Woody Trail: Wallace Falls is a gorgeous set of 9 waterfalls in the lush forest, offering a tranquil slice of paradise. The falls are a massively popular destination in the state, and they see plenty of visitors each week as a result. Don’t let this sway you- if you’re able to go outside of peak hours, you’re almost guaranteed to have a wonderful trip.
- Mailbox Peak Trail: What’s in the mailbox? Besides the trail register, sometimes it’s toys, sometimes it’s beer, sometimes it’s just some ants looking for shelter. The Mailbox Peak Trail leads you to a viewpoint adorned with a sticker-clad mailbox where hikers from all over leave goodies for the next groups up.
- Snow Lake: Some days you want to sweat it out, but some days you just want the views without needing to exhaust yourself, right? Snow Lake is perfect for hikers who want a maximum reward for a moderate effort. This is the most visited lake in the region, and its crystalline waters flanked by a mountain ridge will enchant you.
- Blanca Lake: Blanca Lake is mesmerizing, with that classic alpine opaque aqua-green color (thanks to the minerals in the water) and a grand frame of mountains behind it, including Monte Cristo, Columbia, and Keyes mountains. It’s a beautiful spot that draws plenty of hikers.
- Granite Mountain: The summit of Granite Mountain offers excellent views, and the trail to the top is sure to deliver in terms of a workout. While we don’t recommend this trail for newer hikers because of the consistent, hefty elevation gain, if you’re ready to sweat, you’ll be rewarded.
- Summit Lake Trail: Summit Lake is a local go-to for hikers looking to take their visiting friends and family out, a testament to its accessible but still rewarding nature. With a moderate effort required, you can savour views of Mount Rainier rising over the blue waters of the lake. An endless panorama of peaks surrounds this view, making it a knockout objective.
- Mount Si Trail: A truly staggering number of people hike Mount Si Trail every year, and for good reason- it’s beautiful, and it’s reasonably close to Seattle. This hike is a solid workout, gaining 945 m in just under 6.4 km. It’s enough of a challenge for stronger hikers, but many novice hikers choose Mount Si as their first “hard” hike.
- Kendall Katwalk Trail: Kendall Katwalk Trail is an undeniably impressive hike. This 19.3 km trail climbs a catwalk (er, katwalk) blasted onto the side of a mountain for unbelievable views of Gold Creek Valley and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It’s a favorite for adrenaline junkies and hikers perpetually on the hunt for the next-best views.
Scroll down to see the full list of hiking trails in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest?
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest experiences warm, mild summers and cool winters with lots of precipitation. Certain roads in the park close in the late fall and remain closed through the spring, so we recommend visiting in the summer months of June through September for most hikes, unless you’re seeking snowshoeing routes. If you’re hoping to catch the wildflower blooms in their full glory, a trip between mid-July and mid-August tends to be the best option.
While the summer months offer the best weather, they do also bring the heaviest crowds. If you’re okay with occasionally cooler or wetter conditions, visiting in June or mid-September can give you more privacy on the trails while still offering suitable hiking weather.
If you’re seeking to enjoy winter activities in the park, like snowshoeing, visiting between December and February will be your best bet. Just come prepared as certain services may be unavailable. Take care to plan your visit carefully since some roads in the park are subject to seasonal closures.
Other Outdoor Activities in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Hiking and walking are by far the most popular activities in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, but they’re definitely not the only way to spend your time here. The park is a fantastic spot to camp, with a plethora of frontcountry and backcountry campsites available. Some should be pre-booked and some shouldn’t, giving you the flexibility to work around your plans.
In the winter months, snowshoeing is very popular. Many hiking trails are suitable for snowshoeing, and some have special winter routes to use.
For downhill skiing and snowboarding, Mount Baker Ski Area is a huge resort with great snow suitable for all levels. There are also over 191.5 km of cross-country ski trails to use in the forest.
How to Plan a Trip to Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
A hiking trip in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a must-do adventure, but you’ll want to put enough time and energy into planning to make sure your trip runs smoothly. Whenever you’re planning a trip to a national forest, there are fees, permits, transportation requirements, and day-to-day logistics to consider. The official website of the forest is a great resource for trip planning that also provides up-to-date info on passes, permits, closures, events, and more. If you plan on camping, make sure you plan out your campsites beforehand and check which ones are walk-up and which require advance booking.
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Adventure Tours
Not so excited about hashing out the details of your itinerary? Letting the pros plan your adventure in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest takes the stress out of your trip, letting you focus on your experiences. Check out some incredible adventure tours in the Pacific Northwest, including Mount Baker-Snoqualmie.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Do I need a pass or permit to enter Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest?
You’ll need a pass for most trailheads, picnic areas, and boat launches in the forest. The most commonly needed permit is the Northwest Forest Pass, but check the specific requirements of your destination as other passes may be required, like the Alpine Wilderness Pass.
How many days do you need in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest?
Most visitors come for one day or a weekend, but some devoted backpackers spend a week or more in the area. We recommend two full days to have the time to enjoy several different hikes in the park.
Which city is closest to Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest?
The closest major city to Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is Seattle (117.5 km), which also has the closest international airport, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).
Can you camp in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest?
There are both frontcountry and backcountry campsites in the park. Make sure you book your spot ahead and get all the necessary permits before you pitch your tent.
Are dogs allowed in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest?
Dogs are allowed on most trails in the park but must be kept on a leash.
Do you need a car in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest?
We recommend either driving your own car, renting a car, or booking a tour that includes transportation. There are some public transportation options in the forest but they are largely focused on the towns inside the boundaries of the forest and may not service trailheads.
Explore other great hiking regions in Washington State:
Or check out other amazing hiking regions to explore in the United States.
Best Hikes in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Bear Lake Trail
Bear Lake Trail is a 1.1 km heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Pilchuck State Park that is rated as easy. This trail is simple and straightforward, taking you to the shores of Bear Lake. You can swim, fish, have a picnic, or just relax here.
The road to the trailhead is in poor condition, so we recommend a high-clearance vehicle.
Melakwa Lake via Denny Creek Trail
The Melakwa Lake via Denny Creek Trail hike is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as hard. This hike is used both as a day trip and as part of a backpacking trip. The route is relentlessly unshaded, but if you can beat the heat, you’ll be treated to a tranquil experience on the shores of Melakwa Lake.
Snoqualmie Valley Trail
The Snoqualmie Valley Trail is a 29.6 km heavily trafficked point-to-point trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as easy. This long walking, horseback riding, and biking trail stretches from Duvall in the north to Snoqualmie Falls in the south. Walk any portion of it for a very easy, simple nature walk.
There is a gun range on the Snoqualmie side of this trail that may spook skittish animals, dogs and horses alike.
Hansen Creek Trail
Hansen Creek Trail is a moderately trafficked out and back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. This little trail is used to dig up crystals. You’ll find hikers with shovels and rock hammers searching for quartz along its edges. Grab your gear and see where the god stashes are!
Melmont Ghost Town via Foothills Trail
The Melmont Ghost Town via Foothills Trail hike is a heavily trafficked out-and-back hike near Carbonado that is rated as easy. The Foothills Trail is a nice walk, and what remains of the Melmont Ghost Town (mostly just a few small structures) can be accessed on this trail. You’ll have a high vantage point over the river, but note that there is one short, steep section to contend with to reach it.
Bridal Veil Falls Trail
The Bridal Veils Falls Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back route in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. This pretty hike is quite mellow for the first half but picks up in elevation gain through the second half, making the flowing waters of the falls a welcome endpoint. You can rest at the falls or choose to go on a bit further to Lake Serene, which is serene indeed.
This hike is best done in late spring when the water flow is at its most impressive.
Sparda Lake Culmback Dam Trail
Sparda Lake Culmback Dam Trail is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail near Startup, Washington that is rated as easy. This short jaunt provides a view of the teal Sparda Lake with Bald Mountain overhead, as well as the opportunity to appreciate the Culmback Dam. This trail is suitable for all ages.
Mount Defiance and Mason Lake Hike
Mount Defiance and Mason Lake is a heavily trafficked out-and-back hike in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as hard. This leg burner of a hike is broken up nicely by a rest on the shores of Mason Lake before pushing on for the summit of Mount Defiance, where splendid views over the surrounding peaks and forests can be enjoyed.
This trail gets busy, so we recommend arriving early to secure parking.
Franklin Falls via National Forest Development Road 58
Franklin Falls via National Forest Development Road 58 is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that features a waterfall. This is an easy trail suitable for families with children and it is accessible in most seasons. The waterfall is beautiful and refreshing to enjoy on a hot day, and many families and beginner hikers will find this trail doable and simple. This is a unique approach versus the normal access to the falls.
Heybrook Ridge Trail
The Heybrook Ridge Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. This hike is short, and while a bit of steeper hiking is required near the end, it’s not an overly difficult hike. The main view is of Bridal Veil Falls and the surrounding mountains.
Note that this is not the Heybrook Lookout hike, although we do offer a route guide for that trail as well.
McClellan Butte Trail
McClellan Butte Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as hard. This hike is a great way to try out your first real scramble, with a final rocky push required to reach the summit. If the scramble is too intimidating, you can still enjoy a solid workout most of the way up the mountain.
Kaleetan Peak Trail
Kaleetan Peak Trail is a 16.9 km moderately trafficked out and back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as difficult. This trail is recommended for experienced hikers due to a Class 3 scramble required on the way to the lofty peak. A helmet is strongly recommended for this scramble.
Families frequent the trailhead to see the waterfall, so we recommend arriving early to secure parking.
Kelly Butte Trail
Kelly Butte Trail is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. This is a fantastic hike to do in wildflower season, and it’s suitable for active children, although young ones may struggle with the steeper sections.
The road to the trailhead is in poor condition, so we recommend a high-clearance 4WD vehicle if you have it.
Snoqualmie Mountain Trail
Snoqualmie Mountain is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as hard. This hike is straight uphill the entire way, packing solid elevation gain into a shorter distance. The trail follows a washout gully, so it’s rocky when dry and sometimes impassable when wet. It’s perfect for a challenge or for hikers seeking a good challenge in a shorter distance.
While dogs are allowed on leash on this hike, some users report that the trail becomes too steep for their dogs to complete.
Snoqualmie Tunnel Trail
The Snoqualmie Tunnel Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as easy. This trail leads to an abandoned railway tunnel in the forest, which is a very fun spot for kids and adults alike to explore. This trail can be biked if the distance is too long for you.
Bare Mountain Trail
Bare Mountain Trail is a 12.6 km moderately trafficked out and back trail in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness that is rated as hard. This trail offers splendid views of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Paradise Lakes, and Glacier Peak, but you’ll have to do a bit of bushwhacking to get there. With ferns taller than some people and a lush surrounding forest, stick to your GPS to navigate this sometimes overgrown trail.
The road to the trailhead is in poor condition, so bring a high-clearance vehicle if you can.
Franklin Falls Trail Winter Route
Franklin Falls Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. This route follows the winter access trail, which is longer than the route used in summer. Bring microspikes and snowshoes if you have them.
The road to the campground is often closed during winter, so this route includes the additional walk in.
Wright Mountain Hike
Wright Mountain is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as hard. This trail is enjoyed by day trip hikers and backpackers alike and features two points of interest, Snow Lake and Wright Mountain. Come prepared for a longer day and arrive early to beat the crowds if you can.
Beckler Peak Hike
Beckler Peak is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. While the first part of this hike is somewhat uninspiring, the views from the summit of Beckler East are wonderful and make the trip worth it.
The road to this trail is in poor condition, so we recommend a high-clearance vehicle. We also recommend arriving early to beat the crowds.
Garfield Ledges Hike
Garfield Ledges is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as easy. This quick little hike offers a good view and is suitable for children. The trail itself tends to be smooth and well-maintained.
Essential Tools for Any Adventure
This page may include affiliate links. We may get a small commission for the purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you.
We only recommend tools we personally think are great.