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    Snoqualmie National Forest

    Hikes in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

    Region in Washington State, United States

    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:

    Mount Rainier National Park

    North Cascades

    Olympic National Park

    Or check out other amazing hiking regions to explore in the United States.

    View Hikes in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest on Map

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    Best Hikes in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

    Showing 121 to 140 of 150
      Open details for Alaska Lake via Gold Creek Trail

      Alaska Lake via Gold Creek Trail

      Hard
      19.3 km
      638 m
      5-7.5h

      Alaska Lake on the Gold Creek Trail is a popular trail at 19.3 km with 638 m of elevation gain. This route has a little bit of everything, some good and some more adventurous. Be prepared for a bit of overgrowth, some wading, and some boulder climbing. However, it’s a very fun trail that won’t feel monotonous for a second. From waterfalls to lakes to snow-capped peaks, the changing scenery makes this a fun trip.

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      Open details for Evergreen Lookout Trail

      Evergreen Lookout Trail

      Moderate
      5.0 km
      405 m
      2-3h

      Evergreen Lookout provides breathtaking views over Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and at only 5.0 km, this lightly trafficked trail is like an express lane to mountain views. With 405 m of elevation gain over that short ascent, it’s a bit of a leg burner. We definitely recommend trying it in the fall when the foliage is at its most colorful.

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      Open details for Greenwater Lakes Trail

      Greenwater Lakes Trail

      Easy
      7.9 km
      150 m
      2-2.5h

      Greenwater Lakes Trail is a heavily trafficked trail that is rated as easy. This route only involves 150 m of elevation gain, making it a breeze for beginners and quite kid-friendly. There are old-growth trees, streams, and marsh to enjoy. While you won’t be seeing big mountain views, you’ll love the ambiance here.

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      Open details for Noble Knob Trail

      Noble Knob Trail

      Moderate
      11.1 km
      380 m
      3-4h

      Noble Knob Trail is a moderate hike, with 11.1 km of distance and 380 m of elevation gain. It’s easy enough for kids and beginners, but it doesn’t compromise on views. In wildflower season it’s covered in lupine, and the views of Mount Rainier are enjoyable in all seasons. This route offers the chance to take a side trip up Mutton Mountain if you want to add a bit to your adventure.

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      Open details for Index Town Wall Trail

      Index Town Wall Trail

      Hard
      3.5 km
      381 m
      1.5-2.5h

      Index Town Wall Trail is a short, steep 3.5 km hike in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This hike is short, but it’s still guaranteed to get your heart pumping with 381 m of elevation gain in less than 2.0 km. The view is worth the sweaty sprint!

      Although this trail is short, little kids will likely struggle with the incline of the trail, so we recommend choosing an easier hike if you’re wanting something family-friendly.

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      Open details for Mount Catherine Trail

      Mount Catherine Trail

      Moderate
      5.0 km
      399 m
      2-3h

      Mount Catherine Trail is a moderate hike, with 5.0 km of distance and 399 m of elevation gain. It’s easy enough for beginners, but it doesn’t compromise on views. The forest is lovely and the views of the Cascades are even better. There is a rope at the end of the trail that might make you think you need to scramble, but you could easily reach the top without it.

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      Open details for Norse Peak Trail

      Norse Peak Trail

      Hard
      15.9 km
      982 m
      5.5-7.5h

      Norse Peak Trail is a hard day hike in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This trail is almost 16.0 km long with 982 m of elevation gain. It’s a longer day, but the views of Mount Rainier from the top make it worth it. We recommend planning to hike this trail on a clear day if possible.

      Part of the trail is recovering from a forest fire, but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience of the hike.

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      Open details for Silver Peak Trail

      Silver Peak Trail

      Hard
      8.7 km
      591 m
      3-4.5h

      Silver Peak Trail is a hike in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as hard. This hike is actually quite moderate until the end, where a lofty summit push requires a bit of scrambling. The first half follows the Pacific Crest Trail. You’ll complete 591 m of elevation gain for a great view of the nearby mountains.

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      Open details for Rainbow Lake via Pratt Lake Trail

      Rainbow Lake via Pratt Lake Trail

      Hard
      19.8 km
      947 m
      6-8.5h

      Rainbow Lake via Pratt Lake Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that provides lovely lake views, wildflowers, and ridgelines. It’s a longer trail at almost 20.0 km, and as such it’s often used for both day trips and backpacking adventures, and the trail can be hiked further or kept short while still being enjoyable.

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      Open details for Island Lake Trail

      Island Lake Trail

      Hard
      15.9 km
      901 m
      5.5-7.5h

      Island Lake Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that provides pretty lake views, wildflowers, and peekaboo mountains. This trail and the many others in the surrounding area are often used for both day trips and backpacking adventures, and the trail can be hiked further or kept short while still being enjoyable.

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      Open details for Surprise and Glacier Lakes via Surprise Creek Trail

      Surprise and Glacier Lakes via Surprise Creek Trail

      Hard
      16.1 km
      903 m
      5.5-7.5h

      Surprise Lake and Glacier Lakes are reached on Surprise Creek Trail on this hard hike. At 16.1km and with 903 m of elevation gain, this hike is a solid day’s effort. You’ll enjoy the beauty of two alpine lakes and the mountains that surround them on this trail. You can also use this hike to continue on up Thunder Mountain or Surprise Mountain.

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      Open details for Echo Lake via Greenwater Trail

      Echo Lake via Greenwater Trail

      Moderate
      22.2 km
      713 m
      6-8.5h

      The hike to Echo Lake via Greenwater Trail is an enjoyable trek with moderate traffic in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. While this might be a longer hike, the elevation gain is somewhat spread out, making it suitable for intermediate hikers. This trail is also great for short backpacking adventures because of the two camping areas you’ll have access to.

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      Open details for Dingford Creek Trail

      Dingford Creek Trail

      Moderate
      17.1 km
      757 m
      5-7h

      Dingford Creek Trail is a lightly trafficked trail that offers a bit of adventure for those who tackle it. This trail doesn’t see much traffic, so you’ll have some solitude, but you’ll need to deal with a bit of a rougher trail to enjoy it. Some love this trail and some find the view through the long valley stretch underwhelming, but try it yourself and see what you think.

      The road to the trailhead is in terrible shape, and we do not recommend trying it unless you’re in a very capable high-clearance vehicle.

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      Open details for Guye Peak Trail

      Guye Peak Trail

      Hard
      3.9 km
      617 m
      2.5-3.5h

      Guye Peak Trail is a short hike at 3.9 km, but it packs in 617 m of elevation gain on the ascent, making it a hard hike. A waterfall delights on the way, and you’ll have a good vantage point from the top. The peak is fairly exposed, so we wouldn’t recommend this hike for youngsters or those uncomfortable with heights.

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      Open details for Old Commonwealth Trail

      Old Commonwealth Trail

      Hard
      11.3 km
      737 m
      4-5.5h

      Old Commonwealth Trail is a hard hike in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is used year-round for hiking and snowshoeing. Expect several river crossings, great views, and long talus crossing. This trail used to be longer, but part of it is decommissioned. This guide will only describe the commissioned first section.

      There is some overgrowth at the beginning of this hike, but it’s nothing impassable.

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      Open details for Kendall Peak Lakes Trail

      Kendall Peak Lakes Trail

      Moderate
      13.7 km
      648 m
      4-6h

      Kendall Peak Lakes Trail is a moderate hike with generally light traffic in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The trail is 13.7 km long and leads to three lakes underneath Kendall Peak. In the summertime, the trail is lined with blueberries. While we love this trail in the summertime, it’s also a nice snowshoeing trail.

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      Open details for Tinkham Peak Trail

      Tinkham Peak Trail

      Hard
      7.2 km
      558 m
      3-4h

      Tinkham Peak Trail is a lightly trafficked hard hike in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This 7.2 km trail is easygoing to the popular Mirror Lake, then it drops the crowds and gains elevation to Tinkham Peak. There is some light scrambling required near the top, but it’s not too challenging to complete.

      The trail is not very well-marked past the lake, so GPS routes are recommended.

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      Open details for Putrid Pete’s Peak Trail

      Putrid Pete’s Peak Trail

      Hard
      8.0 km
      908 m
      4-5.5h

      Putrid Pete’s Peak Trail (sometimes referred to as P3) is a fun hike in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This hike has a spectacular summit view reached on a steep final ascent. Expect Class !!+ scrambling and some exposure. If you’re not a fan of heights, we’d skip this one. If you love an adventure, we recommend it! The trail also enjoys less traffic than others in the area.

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      Open details for Elliot Creek Trail

      Elliot Creek Trail

      Moderate
      11.4 km
      359 m
      3-4h

      Elliot Creek Trail is an 11.4 km trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is rated as moderate. This hike is very peaceful and pretty, and it’s easily doable in a half day. It’s a good hike on a hot day because of the plentiful shade all along the route. We do recommend bringing some strong bug spray for this hike as the mosquitoes can be persistent.

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      Open details for Cougar Lake and Little Cougar Lake Trail

      Cougar Lake and Little Cougar Lake Trail

      Moderate
      18.5 km
      753 m
      5.5-7.5h

      Cougar Lake and Little Cougar Lake Trail is a pleasant, quiet hike. This 18.5 km moderate trail is frequented by hikers, backpackers, fishers, and equestrians, but it retains a sense of solitude. It’s a good trail to watch animals on, with elk, deer, birds, and sometimes bears in the area.

      We recommend a potent bug spray for this trail.

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