Twin Lakes

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington

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Twin Lakes


  • Great views start at the Hyak Sno-Park, the begining of the Twin Lakes adventure.- Twin Lakes
  • The first half of Twin Lakes snowshoe is well marked.- Twin Lakes
  • The trail to Twin Lakes begins in open scenery.- Twin Lakes
  • Plenty of snow and big trees on the way to Twin Lakes.- Twin Lakes
  • Plenty of snow around Twin Lakes in mid-March, 2014.- Twin Lakes
  • The trail to Twin Lakes is surrounded by big trees and scenic forest.- Twin Lakes
  • A lot of interesting colors on the way to Twin Lakes, especially in the old-growth forest.- Twin Lakes
  • Twin Lakes in the winter.- Twin Lakes
  • Twin Lakes in the winter.- Twin Lakes
  • Twin Lakes in the winter.- Twin Lakes
  • Twin Lakes in the winter.- Twin Lakes
Overview + Weather
Solitude. Old-growth forest. Easy to navigate.
The beginning can be crowded.
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Pets allowed: 
Groomed trail: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
600.00 ft (182.88 m)
Parking Pass: 
Sno-Park Parking Permit (required in OR + WA 11.01 thru 04.30)
Preferable Season(s):
Total Distance: 
8.00 mi (12.87 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,540.00 ft (774.19 m)
Typically multi-day: 
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description


The Twin Lakes snowshoe is a pleasant outing that provides a variety of snowshoe terrain. Beginning in the Hyak Sno-Park, the trek follows the Iron Horse Trail, which is set atop an old railroad grade and parallels I-90 as it crosses the scenic Keechelus Lake. This first section near Hyak can get crowded with cross-country skiers, sledders, and snowshoers on the weekend. The interval on the Iron Horse Trail is a good, flat path that allows you to get comfortable with your pace and your snowshoes.

The time spent on the Iron Horse Trail is only a warm up, however, and you'll quickly make the short ascent to a Forest Service road that is more removed from the sounds of the interstate and other skiers. You'll spend the bulk of the adventure on this road, and with no interstate sounds and fewer people, it's a nice, quiet walk through a beautiful forest. Be sure to watch for wildlife as you move through the old-growth.

Note that both the Iron Horse Trail and Forest Service road are often groomed, so be sure to stick to the edge of the tracks with your snowshoes.

At a distinct turn in the road, roughly 3 miles from the start, follow the simple directions to find Twin Lakes in the backcountry. There is a summer path leading to Twin Lakes from the road, but the snow renders it nearly impossible to find, so for about a mile you'll find yourself ambling in a winter wonderland full of trackless snow and old-growth forest. And as long as you keep the rambling Cold Creek within earshot and to your left, it's hard to get lost. Twin Lakes itself is a nice respite of open land in the midst of thick coverage, and the impressive solitude is marked by a single gushing waterfall across the lake. When you are ready to leave, heading back home is the easy part of the Twin Lakes adventure: just follow your tracks back to the car. 

Recommended Gear

Before you head out on your next Mount Hood adventure, make sure you have the right gear! 

Here's a list of our go-to snowshoeing essentials to get you started:

Snowshoes: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

Cushioned, Made in USA, Ultralight, 98.8 oz

Men's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Jacket/Shell: Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket

Waterproof, Adjustable Drawcord Hem, Pit Zips, GORE-TEX

Men's • $431-475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Pack: Mammut Nirvana Pro Pack 

35L, Carry-On Size, Hip Belt, Ice Axe / Pole Loops, Hydration Compatible

Standard Fit • $189.95-199.95 • Mammut | Amazon | Backcountry

Small Fit • $199.95 • Mammut | Amazon

Insulating Layer: Moosejaw Dequindre Down Jacket

Water-resistant, Insulated, Adjustable Drawcord Hem

Men's and Women's • $179

Poles: Black Diamond Traverse Pole 

Aluminum, Adjustable with Lever Lock System, 21 oz.

$79.95 • Black Diamond | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Gloves: The North Face GORE-TEX Gloves

Waterproof, Adjustable, Insulated, GORE-TEX

Men's • $99.95-181.63 • The North Face | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $99.95-100.00 • The North Face | Backcountry

Boots: Vasque Snowblime UltraDry Boot

Waterproof, Cushioned, Insulated

Men's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Gaiters: Outdoor Research Verglas Gaiter 

Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight, Abrasion-resistant

Men's • $41.32-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $49.95-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Backcountry Safety

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.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Map

Field Guide + Map

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(21 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(113 within a 30 mile radius)

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