Area: Middle Fork Snoqualmie

Length: (5.6 +) 2.4

Elevation: 1800 +1500 -40

Condition: rebuilt, good

Solitude: medium

Appeal: medium high

Features: temperate water, good camps

Difficulty: moderate

Administered: North Bend RD

Trailhead: Taylor River

Connects to: Taylor River Trail
Deer/Bear Lakes

Guides: BPWsm

Maps: Green Trails Skykomish
USGS Skykomish



The thing that spares Snoqualmie Lake from the crowds is miles — nearly six miles just to hike to the trailhead! In anticipation of growing interest in the Taylor River area, the Snoqualmie Lake trail was revived by the Forest Service, though this detracted from its natural wildness. Still, there is enough undamaged old growth forest to give this the feel of authentic wilderness. And of course, the big lake has a bit of everything. If you have time to stay a while, it is worth the effort.




Hike the Taylor River trail 5.6 miles, 0.8 miles past the concrete Big Creek bridge. Find the Snoqualmie Lake trail branching off to the left. Trail signs seem to come and go, but you will not miss this, even if unmarked.

At first the trail is not terribly pleasant. There are some rough stony spots, some areas with encroaching brush. Then, after about 1/4 mile, something magical happens. The trees get big. The moss gets thick. The ferns and berry brush become less jumbled under a darker canopy. You have just crossed the line between the history of aggressive logging damage and the history of token resource preservation. Welcome to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

At about 0.7 miles, you draw close to the Taylor River, now just the outlet creek from Snoqualmie Lake, and make the first sweeping switchback to the left. There are two more switchbacks over the next 1.0 miles as you gain 800 feet — easily managed.

After the last switchback, begin a long sweep, turning gradually east and then southeast, passing a couple of feeder creeks on scattered boulders, and then see the outlet falls from the lake not far below the trail.


As you finish this bend, you pass between imposing small peaks on the left and the right — I call them the "Pillars of Hercules." At last the trail levels out, passes through some lush vegetation, you soon reach the first campsite. This is good for snow season, but otherwise you should probably continue on.

The trail next takes you around the northeast corner of the lake past a soft swamp-meadow — too soggy for a camp. There is a short uphill grade to climb up and over a peninsula overlooking the lake. Not far on the other side, a side track to the right can take you down to the most popular campsite beside a shallow bay.

But you relish obscurity, right? What you will do is look for a brush pile in a slight depression, on the north side climb of the peninsula before you reach the top. Many years ago, a hard winter deposited broken limbs and debris that hid the side trail up to the right, and it has been lost ever since. Leave the main trail, pick your way across the minor debris pile, and at the top, on the other side, you will see the abandoned path to an uncrowded camp under the trees, top-center on the peninsula. From there, weave your way through the fallen trees and moss blankets to the end of the peninsula to fish deep water, or descend to the north side of the bay to an exceptionally appealing swimming beach.

This is perhaps the second-best swimming lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The lake bottom is firm, the water temperature is unusually comfortable, and there is a refreshing smell that is hard to describe.