Elevation Gain
1,600.00 ft (487.68 m)
Trail type
9.00 mi (14.48 km)
Warming hut
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In contrast to the short, bustling summer trail, the winter Talapus Lake snowshoe route takes much more dedication and can offer plenty of solitude, a rare occurrence on the Interstate 90 corridor. If you can tolerate or ignore the traffic noise as you travel the 3 miles of forest road on the way to the trail, a true beauty of an alpine lake awaits.

In the midst of the winter season, the parking lot and trailhead sit directly off I-90 in a plowed exit where Forest Service Road 9030 begins. Embark westward up the road for almost a mile as it parallels the interstate, then switchback east at the signed junction for Forest Service Road 9031. The continuous coming and going of several gushing creeks adds variety to the slow climb toward the end of the road and the official Talapus Lake trailhead. This is a great place to break, with a clean privy and favorable views of Granite Mountain rising up to the east.

Go forth into the forest and follow the snow-covered trail as it snakes north up the hillside. Upon traversing over a slight ridge, you will meet the sudden sound of Talapus Creek hurrying down to meet the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. This new theme is audible for the remainder of the journey up to the creek's headwaters, where you enter the revered Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Here, the snow deepens significantly and turns the trail into somewhat of a lost cause. Safely cross and continue up the creek for another 0.1 mile, where you will undoubtedly see the luminous lake basin beckoning through the trees. Arrive on the southeast shore, and look for select views of Bandera and Pratt Mountains to the west, along with a shaded avalanche slope dropping into the other side of the lake.                 

Note: Always check weather and avalanche reports while traveling in the backcountry during winter. Use caution while traveling on the snow near creek beds.

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)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Old-growth forest. Frozen alpine lakes.


Interstate noise.

Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

1,676.00 ft (510.84 m)


Big vistas
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day


Groomed trail



Nearby Lodging + Camping

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


We met friends from Montana and went on this hike on Sunday, 2/10. We did the 9 plus miles as the roads were closed shortly after getting off I-90 at exit 45. Had a great snowshoe!
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