sunrise at rattlesnake ledge
Wander Healthy

Rattlesnake Lake, Washington is a beautiful lake located in the Cascade Mountains. My family has lived close by for over a decade and my children have essentially grown up at the lake, enjoying all it has had to offer every age through the years.

Rattlesnake is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to hike, swim, fish, or just enjoy the beach and views. The lake is surrounded by lush forests and hiking trails that offer amazing views of the surrounding mountains and valley.

Know Before You Go
*Where to eat nearby: North Bend Bar & Grill
*Where to stay nearby: Salish Lodge and Spa
*What not to miss nearby: Snoqualmie Falls

Best things to do at Rattlesnake Lake Washington

Rattlesnake Lake Washington

There are plenty of things to do at Rattlesnake Lake, Washington, for visitors of all ages and interests. Here are some ideas of outdoor activities at this spectacular North Bend lake:

1. Hiking

Rattlesnake Ledge trail offers stunning panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains, including Mount Si and Mount Washington. The hiking trail is approximately 4 miles round-trip and gains about 1,160 feet of elevation, with the summit reaching an elevation of 2,078 feet.

The trail is well-maintained and marked. The summit features a rocky outcropping that provides a great place for hikers to take in the views and snap some photos.

This is one of my family’s favorite hikes. It’s relatively easy and always beautiful, whatever the weather.

Caution is necessary at the top however, as it is an uneven surface with many gaps between the rocks and a huge drop off from the edge. It can also be snowy or icy in the winter, and extremely slippery.

2. Walking

The walking path along the south shore of Rattlesnake Lake is a popular destination for little ones and walkers who want to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

The path is a relatively easy walk, where visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including fishing, picnicking, and wildlife watching.

The path is also a great place for birdwatching, with a variety of bird species found in the area, including bald eagles, ospreys, and woodpeckers.  It is ¾ of a mile to the Cedar River Watershed along this path.

3. Biking

Little ones will enjoy biking along the same walking path and exploring the far side of the lake on their way to the Cedar River Watershed.

4. Cedar River Watershed

The Cedar River Watershed Education Center offers unique exhibits and guided tours that provide insight into the history of the area, including the construction of the hydroelectric dam that formed the lake and submerged the town of Moncton.

The history is fascinating and the tour is awesome, but the best part of the watershed for my family has always been the rain garden. If you’re looking for a hidden gem, for something to do with your children on a rainy day in the greater Seattle area, this is the place to go!

5. Swimming

On a warm day, visitors can take a refreshing swim in the lake. However, it is important to note that the lake can be quite cold even during the summer months, and there are no lifeguards on duty.

Visitors should also be aware aware of potential safety hazards while swimming in Rattlesnake Lake, such as tree stumps, submerged logs and rocks, deep drop-offs, and changing weather conditions. 

6. Fishing

Rattlesnake Lake is a popular fishing spot, with rainbow trout and bass the most commonly caught species. Fishing is allowed year-round, although the best fishing is typically in the spring and fall.

Fun fact: There are no rattlesnakes at Rattlesnake Lake or Ledge.

7. Boating

Visitors can boat in Rattlesnake Lake with self-propelled and electric motors only. The lake also allows non-motorized boating, including kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. 

A boat launch is available at the lake, with parking available for boat trailers.

8. Picnicking

Picnicking at the lake can be a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and spend time with family and friends. You should be mindful of park regulations, below, and clean up after yourselves of course.

9. Wildlife viewing

Visitors can see a variety of wildlife in the area, including eagles, ospreys, Canadian geese and even black bears.

10. Photography

The lake and its surroundings offer plenty of opportunities for nature photography, especially during the fall when the foliage changes color.

11. Berry picking

The Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, also known as the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, is a 285-mile recreational trail that spans the state of Washington from the Idaho border to the western foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

The trail is named after the famous actor and avid horseman, John Wayne, who filmed parts of his movie “McLintock!” in the area.

One end of the trailhead starts just above Rattlesnake Lake at the Cedar Butte trailhead. There are berries in the fall, huckleberries and salmonberries, all along this trail. Black bears like the berries too!

playing on the rocks

History of Rattlesnake Lake, WA

One of the most unique features of Rattlesnake Lake is the history that surrounds it. It was formed in 1915, when the Cedar River was dammed to provide hydroelectric power to Seattle. The dam created a large reservoir, which eventually became Rattlesnake Lake.

The old town of Moncton, which was located in the valley before the dam was built, is now submerged beneath Rattlesnake lake. Visitors can learn about the history of the area at the Cedar River Watershed Education Center, which offers exhibits, guided tours and a spectacular rain garden.

How to Get to Rattlesnake Lake, Washington

Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area is located in North Bend, Washington, about 30 miles east of Seattle.

By Car: From Seattle, take I-90 east for approximately 25 miles and take exit 32 towards 436th Ave SE. Turn right onto 436th Ave SE and follow the signs to Rattlesnake Lake. The drive takes about 35-40 minutes from Seattle.

Parking at Rattlesnake Lake

Parking is free and there are large-sized lots for visitors on the left as well as handicapped accessible spots closer to the lake.


Open dawn to dusk, year-round.

Rattlesnake Lake Weather

Rattlesnake lake experiences the same weather pattern as Seattle and surrounding areas, although possibly more rain and definitely more snow due to its higher elevation. Check the forecast when planning a trip.

Rules and Regulations

Portable toilets and lakefront picnic areas. NO drinking water available.

Absolutely NO fireworks, drones, commercial activity, hunting, camping or open fires and no feeding wildlife.

Where to Eat Near the Lake

Health-minded? Family-friendly? Casual dining? There are many restaurants in North Bend that will satisfy everyone in your party.

North Bend Bar and Grill

  • 145 E North Bend Way, North Bend, WA 98045
  • Hours: open daily from 9 am to 9 pm

Pressed on Main

  • 208 Main Ave S, North Bend, WA 98045
  • Hours: 8 am to 4:30 pm, closed on Tuesdays

Where to Stay Near North Bend

There are a variety of campgrounds in the North Bend area, or you can stay at the delightful Salish Lodge and Spa, made famous by the tv series Twin Peaks.

Salish Lodge and Spa

  • 6501 Railroad Ave
  • Snoqualmie, WA 98065

The Salish Lodge and Spa is a beautiful resort with jaw-dropping views of Snoqualmie Falls. The Lodge offers wonderful services and spa treatments, as well as two fantastic restaurants to choose from.

Hilton Garden Inn Issaquah

  • 1800 NW Gilman Blvd
  • Issaquah, WA 98027

The Hilton Garden Inn is another option, closer to the city of Seattle. The Hilton Garden is in Issaquah, halfway between Bellevue and North Bend. They are conveniently located right off I-90 and are within walking distance of a variety of stores and restaurants.

Things to Do Nearby

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie, WA

The falls are one of the most popular places to visit in Snoqualmie, WA. Viewed from above or below, the falls are an incredible experience for every age.

Meadowbrook Farm

North Bend, WA

Meadowbrook Farm is a historic farm located in North Bend, with several activities including hiking, bird watching, and nature photography.

Snoqualmie Valley Railroad Museum

Snoqualmie, WA

The Snoqualmie Valley Railroad Museum showcases the history of the railway in the Snoqualmie Valley. They offer rides in vintage train cars on a regular schedule throughout the summer.


There are many hiking trails in and near North Bend, as well as at Snoqualmie Pass, twenty minutes away. Both are within a short driving distance of North Bend.  There are a range of hikes for every fitness level and age, that are great for the whole family and your dog too!

Cougar Mountain Zoo, Issaquah

The Cougar Mountain Zoo is a compact zoo that showcases diverse animals such as cougars, wolves, and lemurs. People can gain knowledge about these intriguing creatures while also contributing to the zoo’s conservation initiatives.

Interesting FAQs about Rattlesnake Lake

Some commonly asked questions about Rattlesnake Lake, and answers to them.

Can you swim in Rattlesnake Lake WA?

Yes! You can swim in Rattlesnake Lake WA. It’s best to swim in it during the summer when the water is warmer. There is a group of locals however, that dive in for an annual Polar Bear plunge in the middle of winter.

Are there rattlesnakes at Rattlesnake Lake?

No. Rattlesnake Lake is named after the Rattlesnake Mountain that overlooks the lake. The mountain was named by early settlers in the area who thought the sound of rattlesnakes could be heard in the area. However, there are no rattlesnakes in the region, and it is unclear why the mountain was given this name.

Why is Rattlesnake Lake so low in 2023?

Rattlesnake Lake gets low every year, usually at the end of summer after months of high temperatures and little rain. It fills up again when the snow melts from the mountains and the winter rains come.

What is Rattlesnake Lake known for?

Rattlesnake Lake is known for its natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and historical significance, as the site of the Cedar River Watershed. The lake was created in the early 1900s when the Cedar River was dammed to create a reservoir for the city’s water supply.

Is Rattlesnake Lake worth visiting?

Yes! Rattlesnake Lake is a beautiful and scenic destination that offers something for everyone to enjoy. It’s definitely worth visiting if you are in the area or looking for a day trip from Seattle.

kayaking at rattlesnake lake

Final Thoughts on Lake Life

Rattlesnake Lake is a peaceful and scenic spot that offers visitors a chance to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Visitors can take a leisurely walk around the lake or simply sit and enjoy the view. It also offers many opportunities for more active pursuits.

If you’re looking for things to do at lake, these should certainly be at the top of your list. These are my personal favorites and I hope you enjoy them too.  Rattlesnake Lake is a beautiful and popular destination in our state, and there is something for everyone who visits.