Hike to Gem Lake



10 miles

Elevation Gain

1800 ft

Route Type


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...

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Know for

Easy Parking
Swimming Hole



Leave a Review

🥇Top Contributor

6 months ago

Beautiful Hike! (11 miles, 2,700 feet elevation gain)

Gorgeous hike but be warned the hike up to Snow Lake is SUPER crowded and is best described as a "human highway." Once you leave the Snow Lake area, you'll lose most of the crowds. This hike is 11 miles round trip (not including mileage up to Wright's Peak above the lake) and around 2,700 feet in elevation gain.

🥈 Contributor

over 3 years ago

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.



over 4 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.

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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