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
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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.
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Best Hikes in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Dirty Harry’s Peak via Birdhouse Trail
Dirty Harry’s Peak via Birdhouse Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail near Snoqualmie Pass that is rated as hard. This trailhead is now the only recommended way to reach Dirty Harry’s Peak and Dirty Harry’s Balcony as the original trailhead is severely overgrown. The top offers views of the entrance to Snoqualmie Pass.
Marten Lake Trail
Marten Lake Trail is a lightly trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as hard. This hike is very pretty but sees fewer visitors than other nearby trails, making it a good choice for a bit of solitude. There is excellent camping near the lake and you can swim if you wish to.
While the trail is fairly easy to follow, offline GPS mitigates the risk of losing your way at unsigned junctions.
Pinnacle Lake Trail
Pinnacle Lake Trail is a lightly trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Pilchuck State Park that is rated as moderate. This trail leads past Bear Lake to Pinnacle Lake, a quiet little enclave and one of many lakes in the area. The trail does present a touch of a challenge in terms of footing, with parts of the trail being very rocky. Watch your step.
The access road to the trailhead is in very poor condition and is subject to seasonal closures. Bring a high clearance vehicle and check beforehand on the status if visiting in the winter or spring.
Mud Mountain Rim Trail
Mud Mountain Rim Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. This hike requires only modest elevation gain and the trail is fairly well-kept, making it a nice choice for newer hikers.
Watch for stinging nettle on the sides of this trail.
Mount Teneriffe via Kamikaze Trail
Mount Teneriffe via Kamikaze Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail that is rated as hard. This hike is a big one, with a straight-up push on a rocky, steep ridgeline required to reach the summit. Teneriffe Falls are a nice stop along the way (when flowing, which tends to be spring and early summer). Come prepared for a big day!
Hansen Ridge Trail
Hansen Ridge Trail #1020 is a moderately trafficked loop trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. This trail is a converted forest road courtesy of the US Forest Service and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. Watch for bikers as you enjoy this hike.
Zig Zag Trail
Zig Zag Trail is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as hard. The hike leads to a viewpoint with an old truck.
This hike is a leg-burner, so bring poles if you have them. We also recommend hiking in groups as many hikers report seeing either bears or bear scat on this route. Bug spray is also recommended.
Teneriffe Falls and Mount Teneriffe Loop
Teneriffe Falls and Mount Teneriffe heavily trafficked loop trail that is rated as hard. This hike is a big one, with a straight-up push on a rocky, steep ridgeline required to reach the summit. Teneriffe Falls are a nice stop along the way (when flowing, which tends to be spring and early summer). You’ll finish by looping under Blowdown Mountain back to the trailhead. Come prepared for a big day!
Dalles Falls Trail
The Dalles Falls Trail is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. This is a fairly quick and easy trail through a very pretty forest to a small waterfall. We recommend visiting in late spring when the waterfall is at its most impressive. This trail is family-friendly.
Granite Lakes Trail
The Granite Lakes Trail is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail that is rated as moderate. This hike may be long, but the elevation gain is nicely spread out so it feels gradual and never too challenging. The trail wraps around the foot of Mailbox Peak to reach Granite Lakes and then returns.
Part of this hike is a touch overgrown, but it’s nothing impassable.
Snoqualmie Point Park Trail
The Snoqualmie Point Park walk is a very short, easy, family-friendly lollipop walk around a viewpoint. This trail is 0.8 km long and lightly trafficked. It’s a good chance to stretch your legs or a nice side trip to add onto your adventures in the area.
Dirty Harry’s Balcony via Little Balcony
Dirty Harry’s Balcony via Little Balcony is a lightly trafficked out-and-back trail near Snoqualmie Pass that is rated as moderate. This connector provides access to the popular Dirty Harry’s Balcony via Little Balcony, giving an alternative approach that sees far lighter crowds. Bring a GPS for this one, as the trail can be a touch overgrown. The balcony offers views of the entrance to Snoqualmie Pass.
Dirty Harry’s Balcony via Birdhouse Trail
Dirty Harry’s Balcony via Birdhouse Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail near Snoqualmie Pass that is rated as moderate. This trailhead is now the only recommended way to reach Dirty Harry’s Peak and Dirty Harry’s Balcony as the original trailhead is severely overgrown. The balcony offers views of the entrance to Snoqualmie Pass.
Anderson Lake and Watson Lake Hike
The hike to Anderson Lake and Watson Lake is an out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. This trail is a great day trip, but expect to see many new backpackers heading to the campsites near the lake. This trail is rife with mosquitoes, so good spray is a must.
Take your time on the road to the trailhead, it’s very potholed.
Asahel Curtis Nature Trail
Asahel Curtis Nature Trail is a heavily trafficked lollipop trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as easy. This very short walk takes you along Humpback Creek to a section of old-growth forest. Take the whole family and see what trees you can name, or use it as a way to stretch your legs while passing through.
Mount Dickerman Trail
Mount Dickerman Trail is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as difficult. This hike is recommended for more experienced hikers not for any technical difficulty, but for its relentless nature. The entire ascent is on very steep, seemingly endless switchbacks. The views from the top will reward you, though!
Quartz Creek Hike
Quartz Creek is a lightly trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National forest that is rated as hard. This hike becomes very difficult to follow early on, and the trail suffers from overgrowth. Most hikers do not make it to the viewpoint at the end of the trail. If you plan to do this hike, bring GPS to assist in your routefinding.
Humpback Mountain Trail
Humpback Mountain Trail is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as hard. This trail might be short, but it’s very steep and requires some light scrambling to reach the top. If you’re ready to get your legs going, you’ll discover great views at the top.
Bring bug spray for this hike.
Change Creek Trail
The Change Creek Trail is a lightly trafficked out-and-back route in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as hard. This trail earns its rating partly for a steep first half of the hike and partly because the second half of the trail is very overgrown. While routefinding shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, you will need to bushwhack to reach the calm pond at the end of this trail. Also, you’ll likely have the place to yourself!
Round Mountain Trail
The Round Mountain Trail is a moderately trafficked out-and-back trail in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest that is rated as moderate. This trail offers clear views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and the Goat Rocks. It’s a considerable effort to reward payoff and usually not too busy.
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