Area: Middle Fork Snoqualmie

Length: 6.0

Elevation: 820 +2320 -50

Condition: mangled

Solitude: medium

Appeal: low

Granite Lakes, Thompson Lake access, moderate grade, early season

Difficulty: moderate

Administered: WA DNR

Trailhead: Granite Lakes (or alternate)

Connects to: Thompson Lake trail

Guides: none

Maps: Green Trails Mt Si



Covered here is the historical Granite Creek trail route, which was basically the abandoned logging road over which the Granite Creek area was exploited for about a century. The gashes across the face of the mountain remain clearly visible from town along the I-90 corridor. It was such a mess that few came here — savor the solitude. But now that a new trailhead lot and connector route can cut 1.5 miles off the distance, perhaps that too will pass.

Though not the most attractive, the old road at least provided even and stable passage to two small if not noteworthy sub-alpine lakes. The road/trail provided opportunities for snowshoeing in the cold season and relative solitude in the summer season. Is this all about to change? As long as we're removing rusting culverts to help preserve water quality in the Snoqualmie River system (not a bad idea!) what else might be done to make the area a little more stable and natural? Is your answer to spend a million taxpayer dollars to tear the hell out of things with a Caterpillar backhoe? I suspect not. You just can't make up stuff like this.




Start from the minor Granite Lakes trailhead on the Middle Fork River Road. Except for the massive efforts to make the straight appear crooked, and the clear to appear cluttered, there really isn't a lot to say about what has been done to the first 2.8 miles of the old road. Is the mangled old road more "trail-like" than the non-mangled Taylor River road-become-trail just a few miles away? Not obviously.

The grade is gradual and persistent, changing little from end to end. Initially, the run is nearly parallel to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River road. At 1.5 miles, find road-switchbacks where a cedar shake cutter used to operate. The old road used to go straight here — you can still follow it if you wish, being careful to scramble safely above the massive washout. At 1.8 miles, the road/trail returns to the original northeast course. At 2.8 miles, follow a broad 90 degree right bend into the Granite Creek canyon heading southeast. Pass the junction with the new connector trail, which shall not be called the connector trail.


At mile 3.5, an amazing old bridge was chopped out. It was so wide, so solid, that you might not even realize you were on a bridge until you found yourself on the other side of the creek. Chunks were chopped, dumped into the creek, scattered along the trail, or used to make lawn furniture.


Oops... with no bridge, how are you supposed to cross the creek? One of the amazing old timbers was repurposed — to make a narrow new foot-bridge. Very cute! Materials were airlifted in to build the hand rail. The hand rail should last 25 years or so before it rots and leaves the crossing dangerous.


At 4.4 miles, there is small short switchback, enough changes of pace to indicate that you are making forward progress. At 4.8 miles, avoid a side road that heads downhill to the creek. At 5.4 miles reach a distinct Y intersection. Take the right fork, initially slightly downhill and then approximately level, to reach the road's end at a wide-open landing area. At the far end of the landing, find a foot path down to the first of the Granite Lakes.

Maybe, if we are lucky, all of this enhanced naturalness will not result massive erosion problems. Maybe in another 50 years or so things will settle back to something reasonably stable and pleasant. Grit your teeth and cross your fingers.

The lakes, pretty but not spectacular, are not framed well by the historical piles of logging debris. In the early season when all of the other lakes are sealed up with ice, maybe this is the best you are going to find.

If you are not stopping here for the day, return to the Y intersection and continue on the left-hand fork 1.3 more miles to reach the Thompson Lake trail. Be grateful if crowding is not becoming an ever-increasing problem.