Create an account

Start your adventure today.


    Already a member? Login

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    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.
    518 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    10.8 km
    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.
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Be the first to add a review!
    Directions to Trailhead

    Snow Lake Hike


    Download an interactive map and guide on your phone today!

    Table of contents

    The Snow Lake hike is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness that is rated as moderate. This trail gives access to the most visited lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, providing a beautiful objective with no serious effort required. Tucked underneath the 610 m Chair Peak and boasting crystal-clear water, this lake is captivating to visit.

    This hike is very popular, and so you may need to share the trail with more hikers than you’re used to. Try to visit midweek or early in the morning/later in the afternoon if you can for a quieter experience.

    Route Description for Snow Lake Hike

    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. 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 from the north end of the parking lot at the ski area. Climb for 200 feet up log stairs, then start hiking gradually through the forest. About a mile in, a talus slope gives you some new scenery to enjoy. You’ll be able to see Chair Peak in the distance here.

    Continue for ¾ of a mile, where the trail begins to gain more elevation. You’ll gain about 500 feet over ⅔ of a mile 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. Walk to the lakeshore, where most hikers call it a day. However, we recommend you keep going along the trail and across the inlet, hiking about a half-mile to where the inlet drains into the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley. Cross this outlet, then proceed down the lakeshore. As you approach Chair Peak, you’ll get to fully appreciate the beauty of the mountain, with little waterfalls and ribbons of snow dotting its sides. This is the best view on the hike, so it’s worth the few extra steps around the lakeshore to reach it.

    Where the trail meets two other trails, you can turn around. While these trails lead to other lakes, nothing nearby is as spectacular as what you’ve just enjoyed!
    Retrace your steps back to the parking lot.

    Hiking Route Highlights

    Snow Lake

    As the most visited lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Snow Lake is no stranger to attention. This pretty lake is known for still, reflective waters, showing off the gorgeous Chair Peak looming over it. Chair Peak often holds on to stripes of snow late into the season, offering a pretty contrast against the grey rock and green trees that flank it.

    Snow Lake actually used to be someone’s backyard! A spur trail near the inlet leads to the remains of an old homestead. Lucky folk!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I visit Snow Lake in the winter?

    There are several avalanche chutes that cross this trail, presenting a considerable danger to hikers. We do not recommend hiking this trail in snow unless you have a solid understanding of avalanche safety and the appropriate gear.

    Can I swim in Snow Lake?

    While you’re allowed to swim in Snow Lake, the water is ice melt, so it’s normally far too cold to comfortably swim in.

    Do I need a pass to hike at Snow Lake?

    Please have your Northwest Forest Pass ready to go for this hike.

    Insider Hints for Snow Lake Hike

    • Parking for this trail fills up quickly on the weekends. Get here early!
    • The path is narrow in parts, so some hikers with dogs may find it a bit tight. Keep your pets nearby in tight sections for the comfort of other hikers.
    • The trail is quite rocky, so good boots are recommended over tennis shoes.

    Getting to the Snow Lake Hike 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:


    • When to do:


    • Pets allowed:

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly:

      Older Children only

    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:

      Out and back

    Snow Lake Hike Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather


    No reviews
    Write a review

    Add a review

    You must be logged in to post a comment.


    Let someone else do the hard work, book a custom tour in over 85 countries.

    Chat with us on our contact page or fill out the form below!

    Nearby Trails

    10Adventures Trail App

    Take your trails online! Keep track of your route along the way.

    Download for free today.

    Get travel inspiration and discounts

    Join our weekly travel newsletter