For those looking to explore some of Alpental's amazing backcountry, Snow Lake has a little of everything. The route finding is easy, and much of the skin track is already groomed for cross-country use. Making the extra push past the popular Source Lake area will grant you solitude and fresh tracks.
Parking in the upper lot at Alpental Ski Area will take a few steps off your tour. Start by heading northwest up the existing cat-track, and be sure to avoid downhill traffic. Follow the cat-track along the flanks of the South Fork of the Snoqaulmie River until the cat-track ends, and from here make your way up a small snowfield until you gain a notch that puts you into the Source Lake basin. As you approach Source Lake the views become more dramatic and provide plenty of opportunities to grab a snack or water. Many avalanche paths funnel down to Source Lake, so use caution if you decide to proceed up to Snow Lake.
Moving on from Source Lake, follow the fall-line north to gain the ridge. Snow Lake becomes visible after gaining the ridge, and you can begin scouting your line down to the lake. There are a variety of lines around the lake that range from mellow slopes to steeper lines with cliffs and chutes.
When it's time to head back, gain the ridge overlooking Source Lake. Stay high to the skier's right and you'll be able to ski back to the parking lot.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.