Snowy Hike to Rattlesnake Ledge
Washington › Rattlesnake Ledge
Added by Jacob Sacquitne
Rattlesnake Ledge is a short drive from Seattle and surrounding areas. The Snow & cold thins out the crowds, making this a great hike to enjoy the views of the Cedar River Watershed, Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake, and Chester Morse Lake.
The trail to Rattlesnake Ledge is one of the busiest in Washington. Usually, a Saturday or Sunday is a no go for a lot of avid hikers due to the crowds. Adding a little snow and cold diminishes the crowds nicely. While it is no secret, this hike is popular for a reason. The 2 miles it takes to get to Rattlesnake Ledge are fairly easy, and the reward is massive. From the ledge you get expansive views of the Cedar River Watershed, Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake, and Chester Morse Lake. You can even see Interstate 90 weaving through the Snoqualmie Valley in the distance. To put it simply, the view is amazing.
In the winter months, the North Bend / Snoqualmie area gets a decent amount of snow. It isn't going to have constant coverage, so keeping an eye on the snow level helps. A lot of people looking for that snowy hike experience don't have cars that can make it to a lot of Cascade trail heads in winter, and thats where Rattlesnake comes in handy. If you see the snow level drop down below pass level, you can bet most of Rattlesnake Mountain will be getting snow as well, and it's easy to get to without going up or over a mountain pass.
The trail itself starts you out at the beautiful Rattlesnake Lake, looking up at the Ledge and its massive rock face. You start the climb gradually under the canopy of the forest. This part can be interesting in winter months, as the forest canopy can vary the amount of snow on the trail. In my experience, the trail can go from dirt, to ice, to snow frequently, depending on how much snow and sun can make it through the forest canopy.
As the trail gets higher up the mountain, the forest becomes less dense, and views of the lake start to pop through the trees. As you near the top, there will be a junction. Go right and you'll be at the ledge in about one hundred feet. Go left, and you can access "Middle Ledge" and "Upper Ledge" for more expansive views and smaller crowds. Be careful on the ledges with snow and ice, as they all provide sheer cliffs.
Once at the top, enjoy the amazing views with snow capped trees and a sometimes partially frozen lake directly below. For hikers looking for even more winter fun, continue on the Rattlesnake Mountain trail for another 8.3 miles. This will drop you down the West side of Rattlesnake Mountain to Snoqualmie Point Park where there is another trail head. These extra miles of trail climb even higher to over 3,500ft. Snowshoes might be required to pass this section of trail in winter months as there is constant snow coverage December-April.
From Seattle, drive east on I-90 to exit 32 for 436th Avenue SE. Turn right onto 436th Avenue SE, also signed as Cedar Falls Road SE. Proceed about four miles down the road to the Rattlesnake Lake parking lot on the right.
- Warm clothes
- Crampons for icy days
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Get there early.
As is my habit, I got to the trail head early, around first light. I was surprised that there were already quite a few folks in the parking lot. The hike climbs gently up to the ledge where you get great panoramas and a nice view of Mount Si. The trail is very well maintained, even for the winter. There were a few untrained dogs off-leash that detracted from the experience but overall it was a nice hike and good places to shoot some photos. On the way down, it seemed like there was a line just to go up the trail. This is one of the busiest hikes I've been on, especially in the winter. Get there early and avoid the rush.
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