Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Warming hut
No
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.

If you fancy checking out the popular Alpental backcountry near Snoqualmie Pass and chairlifts and downhill runs aren't quite your thing, the snowshoe and cross-country ski route to Source Lake presents an excellent alternative. The lake is miniature in size and aptly named, resting at the head of the scenic South Fork of the Snoqualmie River Valley, where the flowing waters begin their long journey down to the Puget Sound. Although the route rides gradually above the banks of the Snoqualmie River, this is not the place to be during high avalanche danger, as thundering snow slides frequently reach the valley floor.

Source Lake can be accessed from both sides of the Snoqualmie River, creating the possibility for either a loop or a there-and-back trip. The first portion of the loop route follows the Snow Lake Trail along the valley's northern slopes, yielding consistent views of the surrounding mountains. From the Snow Lake Trailhead, locate the nearby avalanche checkpoint sign and set off into the shaded forest beyond. The first mile edges above the river through hearty old-growth hemlock and fir, delivering you to an open slope where Chair, Bryant and Hemlock peaks first appear to the west. From here, the route makes a continuous traverse beneath bulky cliffs and rugged avalanche piles before heading back into partially thinned tree cover. At 2 miles in, you suddenly burst into a basin with giant walls of carved powder, the signature tracks of expert-level skiing and snowboarding. 

Behold the pristine panoramas as you drop down to curve around the west edge of Source Lake. When you're ready to depart, head back east along the river's south bank. At 0.3 miles downstream from the lake, a small waterfall can be found pouring over some rocky steps. Continue descending the valley, where ski paths eventually give way to a groomed trail. This will take you back to the ski area parking lot where you can choose to unstrap and walk the road for 0.25 miles back to your vehicle or carry on with snow travel atop the river bank. 

Note: Always check weather and avalanche conditions before traveling in the backcountry.

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

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Old-growth forest. Large basin with great mountain vistas.

Cons

Near busy ski area with a loud speaker system.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

3,147.00 ft (959.21 m)

Net Elevation Gain

700.00 ft (213.36 m)

Features

Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Waterfalls
Cross-country skiing

Typically multi-day

No

Groomed trail

No

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.