Mackie-TreadLightly[1]

Photo by: Ian Mackie

Written By: Wenatchee Outdoors

SNOQUALMIE PASS – COMMUTER HIKES
We all need to take the drive over the mountains to the West Side from time to time. For some it’s for work. For others it may be to shop, visit friends, see family, get a dose of culture, or reach the airport. And for most, being confined to a metal cage for the five-hour roundtrip drive gets tiresome. So here’s our suggestion for making the Seattle commute both healthier and more tolerable: Break up the drive with a hike. Toward that end, we’ve included the details needed to complete 20 different hikes along the I-90 corridor. Now that dreaded drive can give you something to look forward to.
Note: Each trip below has two ratings: a score of 1 to 5 stars for its overall appeal, and a fitness rating of 0 to 4 that’s consistent with the fitness rating of our other hikes.

SNOQUALMIE PASS CORRIDOR: EAST
Easton Ridge ****/2
DISTANCE: 6 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 2270 ft / 4470
ATTRACTIONS: Views, berries, wildlife, bird-watching
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 70 and drive north
–Turn left on the frontage road on the north side of the hwy
–Turn right on FR 4818 (Kachess Ridge and Easton Ridge)
–After 1 mile, turn right at junction, drive .5 mile to trailhead
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Find trail and follow right path (Trail No. 1308.2)
–At junction with Easton Ridge Trail (elev. 3400 ft), turn right (south) along the ridge –Climb to viewpoint at elev. 4470 ft
RECOMMENDED SEASON: June-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Cle Elum Ranger District, (509) 852-1100, Wenatchee National Forest

Kachess Ridge ****/2
DISTANCE: 6 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 2200 ft / 4600 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Light traffic, lake and mountain views
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 70 and drive north
–Turn left on the frontage road on north side of hwy
–Turn right on FR 4818 (Kachess Ridge and Easton Ridge)
–After 1 mile, turn right at the junction, drive .5 mile to trailhead
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Follow the left-hand Kachess Ridge trail (right path leads to Easton Ridge)
–At junction at 1.9 miles (elev. 3800 ft), take a left, moving away from creek
–Continue to a knob (elev. 4600 ft) at southern end of the ridge
RECOMMENDED SEASON: June-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Cle Elum Ranger District, (509) 852-1100, Wenatchee National Forest

Rachel Lake ****/2+
DISTANCE: 8 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 1600 ft / 4600 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Lake views, meadows, waterfall
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 62 (Kachess Lake)
–Head northeast on Kachess Lake Rd (FR 49) following signs to Lake Kachess Campground
–Take a left on FR 4930 and continue 4 miles to trailhead at road’s end
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Trail follows Box Canyon Creek, levels out at 3.5 miles and passes foot of a waterfall –Cross creek and climb .5 mile to Rachel Lake
–Keep to main trail to protect lakeside vegetation
–For a longer day, follow trail to northern end of lake and hike .5 mile to Rampart Ridge (elev. 5100 ft). Turn left and follow ridgeline for a mile to reach Rampart Lakes area
RECOMMENDED SEASON: July-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Cle Elum Ranger District, (509) 852-1100, Wenatchee National Forest

Kachess Lake ***/0
DISTANCE: 1 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 50 ft / 2300 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Family friendly, old forest, creeks, lakes
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 62 (Kachess Lake)
–Head 5 miles northeast on Lake Kachess Rd (FR 49) to a 3-way intersection
–Turn right into Lake Kachess Campground then branch left just beyond the entrance’s fee booth (for camping only)
–It’s .5 mile to trailhead for Little Kachess Trail No. 1312
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Trail is wheelchair accessible
–Cross over Box Canyon Creek and pass a bench with views of the lake
RECOMMENDED SEASON: July-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Cle Elum Ranger District, (509) 852-1100, Wenatchee National Forest

Twin Lakes and Lake Lillian ****/2+
DISTANCE: 9 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 1500 ft / 5300 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Old forests, alpine lakes, wildlife, berry-picking
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 54 and turn north
–On the road marked “Gold Creek,” turn right
–In .5 mile, find Gold Creek Rd (FR 4832), turn left (north)
–3.9 miles from hwy, head left onto FR 4934 and look for parking area on left in .25 mile
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Climb dirt road beyond the parking as it narrows into a path
–At junction in 2 miles, stay left (right leads to Lake Margaret)
–From Twin Lakes, drop down to Lake Lillian at 4.5 miles
RECOMMENDED SEASON: June-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Cle Elum Ranger District, (509) 852-1100, Wenatchee National Forest

SNOQUALMIE PASS
Iron Horse Trail: The Tunnel ***/1+ or 2-
DISTANCE: 6 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 0 ft / 1100 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Tunnel
ACCESS:
–From I-90 take exit 54 and turn east on State Route 906
–After .5 mile, take a right onto Keechelus Lake Boat Launch Rd
–Turn right into parking area in 200 ft
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Note: The tunnel is completely dark, so bring flashlight/headlamp and backup light. Also, bring extra layers for the low temperatures (50s) in the tunnel
–Turn west from the trailhead to hike to tunnel
–Walk the tunnel from east to west, then return the way you came
RECOMMENDED SEASON: May-Oct (tunnel is closed Nov 1-May 1)
PERMITS / FEES: Discover Pass required.
CONTACT: Washington State Parks, (360) 902-8844,

Kendall Katwalk *****/3
DISTANCE: 11 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 2700 ft / 5400 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Old growth forest, meadows, catwalk
ACCESS:
–From I-90, turn on exit 52 (Snoqualmie Pass west)
–Turn north and, in 100 yards, turn right onto dirt road to PCT trailhead
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Climb 2.5 miles to junction with Commonwealth Basin Trail
–Turn right and continue along PCT
–At 3.5 miles, break into meadows
–At 5.5 miles, reach the katwalk—a shelf crossing the ridge face. Cross (or not) the katwalk before turning back
–If interested in a backpacking trip, pass the Katwalk and hike 2 miles to Ridge and Gravel Lakes. Campsites can be found at both lakes
RECOMMENDED SEASON: July-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking at the trailhead.
CONTACT: Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend office, (425) 888-1421, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

SNOQUALMIE PASS CORRIDOR: WEST
Pratt Lake Basin ****/2
DISTANCE: 8 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 2300 ft / 4100 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Lake views, berry-picking
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 47 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek)
–Turn north, then left at the nearby T
–Follow road to Pratt Lake-Granite Mountain parking
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Take trail to Granite Mountain. After 1 mile, continue straight (right goes to Granite Mountain)
–Viewpoint (elev. 3400 ft) 3 miles from trailhead
–At 3.8 miles, a trail drops to Talapus Lake
–Continue .25 mile to saddle (elev. 4100 ft) between Pratt Lake and Talapus and Olallie Lakes. Turn around here
RECOMMENDED SEASON: June-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend office, (425) 888-1421, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Granite Mountain *****/3
DISTANCE: 8 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 3800 ft / 5629
ATTRACTIONS: Thigh-burning steep, views, popular summit
ACCESS:
–Turn off I-90 at exit 47 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek)
–Turn north over hwy, take a left at the T
–Continue to Pratt Lake-Granite Mountain parking
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Follow trail to junction at 1 mile, take a right
–Note: If hiking before mid-June (most years), be careful of avalanches
RECOMMENDED SEASON: June-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend office, (425) 888-1421, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Denny Creek ***/1
DISTANCE: 4 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 700 ft / 3000 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Family friendly, waterfalls, natural waterslide
ACCESS:
–Turn off I-90 on exit 47 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek)
–Turn north and, at the T, turn right and drive .25 mile to Denny Creek Rd (FR 58)
–Turn left and continue 2.5 miles
–Turn left onto paved road past Denny Creek Campground, find trailhead is at road’s end
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Trail parallels Denny Creek. At 1.3 miles, trail crosses creek for the second time just below the waterslide rock.
–Keekwulee Falls are above the waterslide and Snowshoe Falls are another .5 mile. This is the turn-around point for a 4-mile hike.
RECOMMENDED SEASON: June-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend office, (425) 888-1421, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Franklin Falls ***/0
DISTANCE: 2 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 400 ft / 2600 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Old Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road, old forest, waterfall
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 47 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek) and turn north
–At the T turn right, drive .25 mile to Denny Creek Rd (FR 58)
–Turn left, travel 3 miles
–Just beyond Denny Creek Campground, turn left on FR 5830, park before bridge
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Follow trail paralleling the South Fork Snoqualmie River
–Arrive at Franklin Falls in 1 mile. Don’t swim–loose rocks often carried over the falls
RECOMMENDED SEASON: June-Nov
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend office, (425) 888-1421, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Annette Lake ****/2
DISTANCE: 7.5 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 1400 ft / 3600 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Dense forest, creek and waterfall views, alpine lake
ACCESS:
–From I-90, turn off on exit 47 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek).
–Turn south and travel .25 mile
–Turn left on FR 5590 and drive .3 mile to the parking area
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Trail begins paralleling Asahel Curtis Nature Trail, soon branches right
–Pass under a powerline, cross the Iron Horse Trail, continue on trail to reach the lake.
RECOMMENDED SEASON: June-Nov
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend office, (425) 888-1421, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Mount Defiance *****/3
DISTANCE: 11 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 3384 ft / 5584 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Steep, lakeside rest areas, views from Mt. Baker to Mt. Hood
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 45 (FR 9030)
–Drive north and keep left on FR 9030
–At fork 1 mile from hwy, take another left onto Manson Lake Rd (FR 9031)
–Park at roadblock 3.9 miles from hwy
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Follow Ira Spring Trail toward Manson Lake for 2.7 miles
–Take a left at the fork in the trail
–After 2 more miles, you will reach a meadow. Continue through meadow and follow the path up the ridgeline to the summit.
RECOMMENDED SEASON: Aug-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend office, (425) 888-1421, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Little Bandera ***/2+
DISTANCE: 7 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 2850 ft / 5050 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Light traffic, berries, wildflowers, views
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 45 (FR 9030)
–Head north, staying left on FR 9030
–At the fork in 1 mile, keep left on Mason Lake Road (FR 9031)
–Park at roadblock 3.9 miles from hwy
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Start on Ira Spring Trail and pass path branching toward Mason Lake
–Follow trail to summit
RECOMMENDED SEASON: June-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend office, (425) 888-1421, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Island and Rainbow Lakes ****/3
DISTANCE: 10 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 2000 ft / 4400ft
ATTRACTIONS: Scenic lake basin, few people after first stretch
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 45 (FR 9030)
–Drive north, stay left on FR 9030
–1 mile from hwy, turn right at the fork and continue to trailhead at end of road
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Follow trail to Talapus (1.25 miles) and Olallie Lakes (2.25 miles)
–From Olallie Lake basin, branch right onto the trail crossing Talapus Creek (left to lakeshore)
–Above creek, turn left at the junction
–Keep left at the next junction (3.6 miles from trailhead)
–At the high point overlooking the lakes, turn left to travel down .4 miles to Island Lake, or keep right to head .5 miles to Rainbow Lake. A small path through the woods links the lakes.
RECOMMENDED SEASON: June-Oct
PERMITS / FEES: Northwest Forest Pass
CONTACT: Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend office, (425) 888-1421, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

NORTH BEND AREA
Twin Falls ****/1
DISTANCE: 3 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 500 ft / 1000 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Impressive stairstep falls, kid friendly
ACCESS:
–From I-90, turn off at exit 34
–Turn south on 468th Avenue SE
–Branch left on SE 159th St just before the bridge over the South Fork Snoqualmie River
–.5 mile further to trailhead
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–At 1 mile, a short path on the right heads to viewpoint of 150-ft lower falls
–Continue .5 mile to the bridge beneath two other falls
RECOMMENDED SEASON: Year round
PERMITS / FEES: Discover Pass Required
CONTACT: Washington State Parks, (360) 902-8844

Little Si ****/2
DISTANCE: 5 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 1200 ft / 1576 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Views of Upper Snoqualmie Valley
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 32 (436th Avenue SE) and turn north
–Travel .5 mile to North Bend Way, where you will take a left (west)
–Drive .25 mile to Mount Si Road, take a right (north)
–Cross the bridge, go around a curve, find trailhead on the left. Reaching 444th Avenue SE is too far
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Follow the trail out from the parking lot.
–The trail turns and runs straight up to the summit—some scrambling involved
RECOMMENDED SEASON: Year round
PERMITS / FEES: Discover Pass Required
CONTACT: Washington State Dept of Natural Resources , South Puget Sound Region, (360) 825-1631

Mount Si *****/3
DISTANCE: 8 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 3150 ft / 3900 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Most heavily used trail in the state (30-50,000 visitors per year), incredible view of Upper Snoqualmie Valley and Puget Sound Basin
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 32 (436th Avenue SE), turn north
–Continue .5 mile to North Bend Way and branch left (west)
–Turn right (north) on Mount Si Road after .25 mile
–Follow road 2.5 miles, look for parking area on the left
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Pass Snag Flat and a small brook at 1.8 miles
–The trail climb until it reaches the summit. The actual summit is the “haystack.” There is a rough path to the top, but the scramble is difficult and dangerous…better not to try it.
RECOMMENDED SEASON: May-Nov
PERMITS / FEES: Discover Pass Required
CONTACT: Washington State Dept of Natural Resources , South Puget Sound Region, (360) 825-1631

ISSAQUAH ALPS
West Tiger 3 ****/2
DISTANCE: 5 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 2100 ft / 2525 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Popular trail, stunning views, wildlife
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 20 and turn south
–Follow frontage road for .5 mile to gate at road’s end. Gate closes by 7 p.m, so park outside if planning on a late return. If not, continue to Tradition Plateau trailhead
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Take Bus Trail and turn, in .25 mile, turn left onto West Tiger 3 Trail.
–Turn right at second fork and then keep to the main path, avoiding the branching trails
–Cross West Tiger Railroad Grade at 2 miles and travel .5 mile to the summit.
–For a longer day, drop down the Section Line Trail. After 1 mile, branch right on a path (elev. 1100 ft) that links with West Tiger 3 above the trailhead
RECOMMENDED SEASON: Mar-Nov
PERMITS / FEES: Discover Pass Required
CONTACT: Washington State Dept of Natural Resources , South Puget Sound Region, (360) 825-1831

Tiger Mountain Trail: North ***/2-
DISTANCE: 5 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION GAIN / HIGH POINT: 1100 ft / 1500 ft
ATTRACTIONS: Views
ACCESS:
–From I-90, take exit 20 and turn south
–Follow frontage road for .5 mile to gate at road’s end. Gate closes by 7 p.m, so park outside if planning on a late return. If not, continue to Tradition Plateau trailhead
TRIP INSTRUCTIONS:
–Start out briefly on the Bus Trail
–Take a left on the West Tiger 3 Trail and branch left onto the TMT at second junction
–Cross West Fork High Point Creek and stop at the viewpoint beyond the crossing of the main branch of High Point Creek
RECOMMENDED SEASON: Mar-Nov
PERMITS / FEES: Discover Pass Required
CONTACT: Washington State Dept of Natural Resources , South Puget Sound Region, (360) 825-1831

The information for these hikes has been compiled with the help of Dan A. Nelson’s book, Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Region, published by The Mountaineers Books. For more detailed accounts of these hikes, topographic maps with routes illustrated, and an accounting of an additional 125 hikes near Issaquah, North Bend, Snoqualmie Pass, Cle Elum and Chinook Pass, get the book.

Leave It Better Than You Found It
. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…

Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or may not know all the issues affecting a route. You are still completely responsible for your decisions, your actions, and your safety. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.

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