Hike to Gem Lake

Rate this Adventure Washington Snow Lake Trailhead

Added by Shelby Pothier

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...

Pack List

  • Water
  • Shoes or boots that are comfortable on the rocky trail
  • Bathing suit
  • Camera
  • Permit filled out at the trailhead
  • Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass for parking
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Yoga

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



10 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1800 Feet


Easy Parking
Swimming Hole

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Added by Shelby Pothier

"Together we will take the road that leads into the West,
 And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest."

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