Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
3,000.00 ft (914.40 m)
Trail type
10.00 mi (16.09 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

This hike begins at the Snow Lake Trailhead in Snoqualmie Pass, which is justifiably the busiest trailhead in the area. But don't let that scare you away! The hikers who have the extra curiosity (and stamina) to venture a few miles past the gorgeous shores of Snow Lake will be rewarded with much smaller crowds and a beautiful, crystal-clear alpine lake surrounded by jagged peaks.

Following the trail to the Snow Lake Basin, continue circumnavigating the lake. A highlight of the trail is walking across an awesome log bridge high above the outlet of Snow Lake. Continue following signs for Gem Lake and soon you will begin switchbacking up the ridge and traversing a large talus slope. Arrive at the Gem Lake Basin and take it all in!

Great campsites are scattered throughout the small cliffs and meadows here. For more campsite privacy, traverse the lake counterclockwise and you will find a few more amazing sites on the east side of the lake and another great site or two on the north side of the lake.

On the east shore, a tall rocky mountain looms. If big views are what you're looking for, the scramble to Wright Mountain awaits. There is no official trail, but a defined bootpath leaves from near the campsites on the east side of the lake. Some mild boulder hopping will be required to reach the rocky summit for 360-degree views of the Cascades. There is also a smaller scramble along a ridge to a high point on the north side of the lake that has some pretty great views as well, if you aren't up the the elevation gain to Wright Mountain. If you are staying at Gem Lake, the sunset views from either spot are stunning.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Multiple lakes. Options to extend your hike. Great views. Lots of parking at the trailhead.


Big crowds. Rocky trail.

Trailhead Elevation

3,022.00 ft (921.11 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day



Nearby Lodging + Camping

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington


Looks like an awesome destination!
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