Hike to Gem Lake

Snow Lake Trailhead

Distance

10 Miles

Elevation Gain

1800 Feet

Activities

Camping, Yoga, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Type

Out-and-Back

Added by

Shelby Pothier

Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Swimming Hole

This is an insanely beautiful hike through alpine meadows to a secluded lake that feels very far away, while still being very close to Seattle.

The trail to Gem Lake lies along the same trail that passes by the incredibly popular Snow Lake. While the masses typically stop the first place they can along the shores of Snow Lake, fewer make the short trek from there up to Gem Lake. Park at the giant lots at the end of the road to Alpental (and get there early, because the lots and the trail will fill up quickly!), fill out your trail permit at the trailhead, and then follow the trail back through the valley and then up the ridge along the switchbacks. Right when you start to break a real sweat, you've reached the saddle of the mountain and are peering over to Snow Lake. Continue along down into the basin and around the lake, passing many day use areas and campsites. You'll soon leave the crowds behind and come to a fork in the trail. Hang a left and follow the sign towards Gem Lake. Follow the trail as it winds back down to the shores of Snow Lake, over a log bridge, and up through avalanche chutes with chirping pikas and meadows full of bushes heavy with berries. Soon you'll come around a stark rocky ridge to the beautiful, secluded Gem Lake.

If you want to make this an overnight, check out this adventure: https://www.theoutbound.com/wa...

Community Photos

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Nearby Lodging

From $400/night

LOGE at The Pass Life

Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

From $55/night

LOGE Leavenworth

Leavenworth, Washington

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Meandering Trail

The elevation gain is a little off, the trail goes down as almost as much as it goes up, so it is more work than it looks, but it is a beautiful trail. The trail meanders up, down, left, right, and you don't see Gem Lake until you are right on top of it. Wonderful setting with a little snow in the Fall as well.

Jill Kranz

over 2 years ago

Gem Lake

Gem Lake is a great hike! Right now the trail is wet/muddy but no snow. It can get pretty crowded on the weekend as it's a popular hike to Snow Lake.

Distance

10 Miles

Elevation Gain

1800 Feet

Activities

Camping, Yoga, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Type

Out-and-Back

Added by

Shelby Pothier

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Winter Camping at Snow Lake

Adventure

Climb the South Face of The Tooth

Adventure

Winter Backpack Below Chair Peak

Adventure

Hike Snoqualmie Mountain

More Nearby Adventures

Related Stories

travel

Women’s Adventures on the Rise with MT Sobek

​Our friends at MT Sobek are proudly marking their 50th anniversary by creating a series of women...

gear

5 Pieces of Gear You Need for a Weekend Adventure in Monterey, California

Everything you need to crush your trip to Monterey.

destinations

Why You Need to Visit Taughannock Falls in the Winter

Taughannock Falls is gorgeous year-round, but it is especially beautiful in the winter

how-to

How to Pack for Adventure Travel

Pack light, pack smart, and always give yourself some breathing room.

More Stories