Wander Healthy

Looking for the best Snoqualmie Pass hikes to plan your summer? I’ve got you covered. I’ve been hiking at the pass for well over a decade and while I’m still exploring and discovering the magic of these mountains, I’ve learned a few things along the way that I’m happy to share with you here.

Snoqualmie Pass is a mountain pass in the Cascade Range of Washington state, approximately 50 miles east of Seattle. I love it for its overwhelming beauty and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation, including skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and mountain biking.

The Best Snoqualmie Pass Hikes

Hiking at Snoqualmie Pass is an extremely popular sport, particularly during summer months when the snow has melted, and the trails are more easily accessible.

Tip – The best North Bend hikes are often accessible even when Snoqualmie Pass is not.

Best Easy Hikes in Snoqualmie Pass

There are many hikes in Snoqualmie Pass for beginning hikers. We’ve been hiking them every year since before my children could walk. These hikes offer a variety of things to see and explore for the young, and young at heart.

1. Franklin Falls Trail

Snoqualmie Pass Hikes Franklin Falls
Franklin Falls
  • Mileage: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 354 ft
  • When to go: Year round
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass in summer Sno-Parks Permit in winter
  • Worthy notes
    • Avalanche danger in winter
    • Seasonal road closures require alternate route
    • Restrooms available in summer

The earlier you arrive at Franklin Falls trail, the easier the parking will be. It’s an extremely popular hike during all seasons.

The road leading to the trailhead is closed during the winter, requiring a walk of an extra 2 miles along Denny Creek Road. From the trailhead itself you will hike along the river for most of the journey, passing by a very popular and charming red cabin that seems to shine in the snow.

It’s a fairly easy hike, even in the winter and there are many places to stop and enjoy the view of the river along the way. You can view the falls from a viewpoint above or descend along a narrow ledge blasted into the rock face, which can be extremely slippery when wet or during the winter.

Local Tip: There is usually a short period of about two or three weeks in the winter when the waterfall is completely frozen and you can watch ice climbers making their way up.

2. Gold Creek Pond Trail

Gold Creek Pond
Gold Creek Pond
  • Mileage: 1.2 miles (2.8 miles in winter)
  • Elevation gain: 45 feet
  • When to go: year round
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Worthy notes
    • ADA accessible loop in summer
    • Do not swim or fish in this pond, due to contaminants when it was a large gravel pit
    • Very popular site for engagement and graduation photos

This park also requires a longer walk to the trailhead during winter months, as the road getting to the trailhead is blocked off with snow. Snoqualmie Pass Visitor’s Center has information about ranger-led snowshoe events if you’re new to the sport and wish for guidance along the way.

Local Tip: A less popular area for exploration can be found east of the lake. There’s a small trail going up to an unmaintained winter road that leads to another smaller, also beautiful pond. Respect signs for private property on this alternative route and stay on the main trail.

3. Snoqualmie Tunnel Trail

Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel
Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel
  • Mileage: 5.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 0
  • When to go: summer to mid-fall
  • Parking permit:  Discover Pass
  • Worthy notes
    • Closed in winter
    • Popular biking trail
    • You will need headlamp or flashlight
    • The tunnel is significantly colder than the outside air, bring extra layers, warm hat and gloves

The Snoqualmie tunnel is an old train tunnel and is part of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, which is 250 miles in length. The tunnel itself is only 2.6 miles long but is cold, dark and kind of spooky in the middle especially. Go with a friend if you’re afraid of the dark or claustrophobic.

Local Tip: There’s a sweet little waterfall and a picnic table at the other end of the tunnel to explore.

If you’re interested in a significantly longer journey, you can ride your bike from the Hyak parking lot, all the way down this trail for approximately 25 miles to come out just above Rattlesnake Lake. If you’re interested in a more challenging adventure, you can ride in the opposite, uphill direction.

Moderate Snoqualmie Pass Hikes

Hikes with a moderate rating for difficulty tend to vary significantly in fitness demands. Be sure to look at the elevation you will cover in what distance and know your own abilities.

4. Mirror Lake Trail via the PCT

Mirror Lake Washington
Mirror Lake, Snoqualmie Pass
  • Mileage: 3.5 miles     
  • Elevation gain: 688 feet
  • When to go: summer to fall
  • Parking permit: none
  • Worthy notes
    • Camping
    • Salmonberries and blueberries in season
    • Swimming

This is an extremely popular hike with a very small trailhead. The trail allows you to hike along the PCT for a short time before splitting off before the lake. The trail winds around to the left of the lake, though it is possible to find some campsites to the right if you don’t mind a little bushwhacking.

Local Tip:  This is the ideal campground for beginning backpackers and kids of all ages. Go during the week if you possibly can, and don’t expect it to be quiet at night.

5. Mount Catherine

winter hiking fun
Snow Angel at Mount Catherine
  • Mileage: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1309 feet
  • When to go: summer to early winter
  • Parking permit: none
  • Worthy notes
    • Huckleberries in late summer and early fall
    • Rough road
    • Road is closed in winter

Mount Catherine is a short, beautiful and steep hike, with views of many Snoqualmie Pass peaks from the top. It’s often less crowded than others, due to challenging road conditions.

Local Tip: People often combine this hike with Silver, since the trailheads are so close together.

6. Kendall Peak Lakes Trail

Snoqualmie Pass Hikes
Kendall Peak Lakes Snowshoe
  • Mileage: 8.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2125 feet
  • When to go: year-round
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass in summer, Sno-parks Permit in winter
  • Worthy notes
    • Snowshoe in winter
    • Avalanche danger possible in winter
    • 3 small lakes

This trail is a gorgeous hike with stunning mountain views that may be more popular in the winter as a snowshoe than in the summer as a hike. There are many areas and viewpoints to explore along the way or to use as a turn-around point if going all the way to the lakes isn’t your top priority.

Local Tip: Parking for this is difficult on weekends, as the lowest portion of the trail is also a fine sledding hill for kids.

7. Snow Lake Trail

Snoqualmie Pass Snow Lake
Snow Lake, Snoqualmie Pass
  • Mileage: 6.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1699 feet
  • When to go: spring through early winter
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Worthy notes
    • Avalanche danger in winter
    • May need microspikes or snowshoes when snow is present
    • The most visited lake in the Alpine Lakes region
    • Established campsites

There are three fantastic viewpoints on the Snow Lake trail. One from the enormous rock looking out over the lake. One from the camping area and the other the entire length of trail to the right side of the lake.

Whichever your perspective and whatever the weather, you will find beauty beyond expectation at this lake. The sun shining on the lake on a relatively cloud-free day however, really brings out the colors of the water and brings out the best reflections as well.

Local Tip: This is not the same trail as the Snow Lakes trail in the Enchantments.

8. Annette Lake Trail

  • Mileage: 7.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2043 feet
  • When to go: spring through early winter
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass, Sno Pass in winter
  • Worthy notes
    • Avalanche danger in winter
    • Will need micro spikes or snowshoes depending on winter conditions.

The Annette Lake Trail offers a variety of natural diversions, including colorful wildflowers, serene forests, a picturesque alpine lake, and a variety of changing scenery.

Be prepared for mud and creek crossings in the spring especially and snowshoe worthy conditions in winter.

Local Tip: If you have the time, consider exploring the 0.5 miles Asahel Curtis Nature Trail while you’re in the area. It’s just off the same trailhead and is a photographer’s dream, especially in the green of spring.

Difficult Hikes at the Pass

Snoqualmie Pass hosts a variety of spectacular hikes for those with advanced fitness and hiking skills.

8. Gem Lake

Gem Lake
Gem Lake
  • Mileage: 11 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2670
  • When to go: late spring to fall
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Worthy notes
    • Avalanche danger in winter
    • Popular camping area in summer
    • Bugs here, and possibly everywhere, are drawn to the smell of cucumber

If you’re up for what feels like a trek you can keep going after reaching Snow Lake, Gem Lake offers treasures left and right. Bring your navigation equipment and know how to use it, as this trail connects with others as you make your way away from Snow Lake.

Local Tip: There is beauty and delight around every corner on this hike. Expect frequent stops to fully appreciate the views.

10. Silver Peak Trail

Silver Peak Snoqualmie Pass
Silver Peak
  • Mileage: 5.4 miles     
  • Elevation gain: 1938 feet
  • When to go: late spring to late fall
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Worthy notes
    • The trailhead is not far past the Mount Catherine trailhead
    • First half of trail is part of PCT
    • Road closed in winter
    • Road is rough

This unique trail may easily require route-finding skills, depending on the season and trail conditions. It’s bit of a scramble at the top, depending on what the trail conditions are like when you go. I recommend hiking poles if you have weak ankles or knees.

Local Tip: Absolutely stunning 360 degree view from the top. If you can manage this on a day without clouds or wind, you will be rewarded a thousand-fold for your efforts.

11. Tinkham Peak Trail

Tinkham Peak
Tinkham Peak
  • Mileage: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1830
  • When to go: summer and early fall
  • Parking permit: none
  • Worthy notes
    • Road is rough
    • Berries
    • Wildflowers

The route to this trail is not obvious, make this one of Washington’s greatest hidden gems. It takes off from the far side of Mirror Lake and you’ll need route-finding skills to find it, as well as to stay on it for the first mile or so. Go with someone who has done this hike before if you possibly can.

It’s an extremely challenging hike with some very sketchy parts that require pulling yourself up with your hands in places. The peak itself has a very steep drop-off and is not a safe place for children or dogs that like to wander.

Local Tip: Go on a weekday, camp at the lake and take an adventure up the following day for a spectacular two-day experience.

12. Kendall Katwalk

Snoqualmie Pass Hikes
Kendall Katwalk
  • Mileage: 15 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3205
  • When to go: summer
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Worthy notes
    • First part of hike is along the PCT
    • Bees in late summer
    • Wildflowers
    • Old growth forest
    • Fall foliage

The Katwalk is a short, narrow portion of the trail that was blasted out of a very steep rockface. In person, it’s likely not as narrow as you had imagined, but still very impressive.

This hike takes you through a variety of terrain, making the trip seem much shorter than it actually is. The boulder field is a fantastic place to take a break and watch for pikas.

Local Tip: Going an extra mile to see the lakes at the end is totally worth it.

13. Granite Mountain Lookout Trail

Granite Mountain Lookout Trail
Granite Mountain Hike
  • Mileage: 7.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3717
  • When to go: late spring to early winter
  • Parking permit:
  • Worthy notes
    • Avalanche danger in winter
    • The lookout is closed unless a ranger is present
    • Unbelievable views from the lookout

A fantastic training hike with views that never get old.  The Granite Mountain trail starts out in combination with the trail to Pratt Lake. After 1.2 miles at a junction clearly marked with signs for both hikes, take the right at the T to Granite Mountain and begin the climb.

Local Tip: The meadow, about a mile before the lookout, is a treasure of beauty and hidden spaces. If the blueberries along the main trail are all consumed, you will find plenty on any of the side trails throughout the meadow.

14. McClellan Butte

McClellan Butte
McClellan Butte hike
  • Mileage: 10.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3750 feet
  • When to go: late spring to early winter
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Worthy notes
    • Avalanche danger in winter
    • Handholds blasted into the very top scramble may not be there

The lower half of this trail is primarily shaded and crosses the Iron Horse trail, a forest road and under power lines. Once past those areas, the trail feels more like a trail should. This is another very challenging hike, best done on a cool day and with plenty of water.

Local Tip: The peak requires scrambling and extensive experience to navigate safely. It is not a place for children, dogs, inexperienced hikers or those who are afraid of heights. You can hike right up to the boulder area however, and still be completely satisfied with the views.

15. Mount Margaret

Mount Margaret
Mount Margaret side trail view
  • Mileage: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2000 feet
  • When to go: late spring to early winter
  • Parking permit: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Worthy notes
    • Avalanche danger in winter
    • Wildflowers
    • Fall foliage
    • Mountain goats

The Mount Margaret trail offers a wide range of scenery from lakes, mountains and truly impressive second growth forest. It’s less popular than many hikes at the pass, so is rarely ever crowded.

Local Tip: Less than a mile up, take the decommissioned forest road left for a slight detour to a gorgeous mountain and lake view, as shown above. If you arrive early enough, the lakes are covered with surreal clouds. Return on your way back to see the spectacular view without clouds.

Tips for Hiking at Snoqualmie Pass

  • Prepare for all possible conditions, including rain, snow, and hail
  • Bring the correct parking permit
  • Bring your ten essentials
  • Before embarking on any hike, check trail conditions and trip reports
  • Arrive as early as possible for a good parking spot
  • Fill up on gas at exit 34 if coming from Seattle
  • Don’t leave valuables in your car
  • Don’t park along the road unless it’s allowed
  • Don’t hike beyond your abilities
  • Do not rely on others in your party for navigation or first aid supplies.

Snoqualmie Hikes in Winter

Wondering when to go hiking at Snoqualmie Pass? Quite a number of hikes are difficult to reach or unsafe to navigate during the winter months. But there are still several possibilities near Snoqualmie Pass.

Franklin Falls and Gold Creek Pond are accessible as long as the pass is open, but require further walking distances to get to the trailhead. Kendall Peaks is also open. There are several hikes in nearby North Bend that are safe during the winter, such as Mt Si, Rattlesnake Ledge and Twin Falls.

Snoqualmie Pass Weather

The pass is frequently closed temporarily in the winter, due to avalanche control or road conditions. There are also frequent travel restrictions due to weather. You can check current road conditions and weather at WSDOT link and by viewing the Snoqualmie Pass webcams.  

Where to Eat near Snoqualmie Pass

There are many fantastic restaurant at or near Snoqualmie Pass, including some in North Bend and the city of Snoqualmie, closer to Seattle.

The Commonwealth

  • 10 Pass Life Way #1, Snoqualmie Pass, WA 98068
  • Hours: noon to 8 pm, closed Monday and Tuesday

North Bend Bar & Grill

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

Where to Stay

Generally expect a significant price increase at the Pass, except for camping or these two, which are both nicely affordable. Prices may increase during the summer months however.

📍 Studio Suite, Snoqualmie Pass, WA

Clean, pet-friendly and great Wi-Fi connection, not that you will be spending very much time indoors while you’re here!

📍 Hyak Duplex Cabin, Snoqualmie Pass, WA

This cozy cabin with mountain views has 3 bedrooms and plenty of space, as well as 2 bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen, washing machine and dryer. Pet friendly!

FAQs About Trails near Snoqualmie Pass

Is Snoqualmie Falls hike easy?

Snoqualmie Falls hike is rated as an easy trail and has three different options for viewing. It is half an hour away from Snoqualmie Pass.

What hikes are near Snoqualmie Falls?

There are a number of hikes near the falls in near Snoqualmie, a different location than Snoqualmie Pass, including Twin Falls, Rattlesnake Ledge and Franklin Falls.

Is Franklin Falls an easy hike?

Franklin Falls is rated as an easy hike and can also be snowshoed in the winter.

Can I drive through Snoqualmie Pass?

Yes. While the pass closes periodically throughout the winter, it is generally open.

Final Thoughts on Hiking Trails Snoqualmie Pass

Snoqualmie Pass offers many activities for outdoor lovers and is an incredible location for hikers of all levels. The hikes listed here are simply the best ones in my opinion, but it’s not a comprehensive list of all possible hikes at the pass.

I encourage you to see these trails, and others, in different seasons and weather conditions, as they’re never the same and always beautiful. Happy hiking!