Snow, Gem, Wildcat Lakes: Overview

I tend to treat the Snoqualmie Pass area like a quarantine zone. Not that the area isn't lovely — but it is not exactly a secret. With the trailhead parking lot doubling as the Alpenthal Ski Area parking lot during the winter months, this is recreation central. Considering the firm rocky trail, lush alpine views most of the way, and a spectacular overview of Snow Lake at a mere 3 miles from the trailhead, the popularity follows. Factor in the 50 miles distance from Seattle, and the crowds follow.

The day hikers, by the hundreds, will stop at Snow Lake. A few hearty overnight campers and day hikers continue the climb into the mountain tops to reach Gem Lake.

I kept going. Beyond Gem Lake, the trail turns into a true wilderness trail, narrow, sometimes steep and unpredictable, sometimes not fully there. Even so, do not expect complete solitude, not even mid-week. Map and backcountry navigation skills are advised beyond Gem Lake.

trail map