The summertime closure of trails leading to Snow, Source and Annette lakes, three popular hiking destinations in Snoqualmie Pass, may sting at first — like the slap of cold water when you plunge into an alpine lake.

But the overdue maintenance (beginning approximately July 15), which will rebuild the trails to better handle the many thousands of hiking boots treading up and down them annually, is a reason to rejoice: More than $500 million in federal money for public lands is being put to work with projects like these.

Obvious alternatives to the closed lakes will be three other easily reached favorites: Mason Lake and the chain of Talapus and Olallie lakes. But before you make those cherished swimming holes into your Snow Lake Plan B, more bad-but-good news: Both trailheads sit at the end of forest roads off Interstate 90 Exit 45, and those roads are subject to intermittent summer closures for regrading and fixing up. Your vehicle will thank you for waiting that one out.

The truly good news? The Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the chunk of national forest in the Central Cascades where you’ll find these shimmering aquatic delights, lives up to its name with more than 700 lakes, ponds and tarns.

“The summer’s closure of two really popular lakes on I-90 are a great chance to explore other lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness,” said Anna Roth, Washington Trails Association hiking content coordinator. “There are dozens of lakes right off I-90 and hundreds to pick from if you go off that highway.”

We’ve narrowed your choices down to six options to whet — and wet — your appetite. Happy trails!



And beyond carrying the 10 essentials, some other quick reminders before you go: These public lands require that your vehicle display a Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually, national forests only) or America the Beautiful interagency federal lands pass ($80 annually, also includes national parks) at the trailhead. If the trailhead is too busy — as in, parking will block other vehicles from getting in or out — go somewhere else. Pack out what you pack in, and in federal wilderness areas, drones are not allowed. For the sake of your fellow hikers’ solitude, leave that mechanical buzz at home.

Finally, this year shoulder season has stayed late and there may be snow on trails well into the summer. Check Washington Trails Association trip reports as well as Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest road and trail conditions before you go.

Granite Lakes

Granite Creek Trailhead, NF-5600, North Bend

The Middle Fork Snoqualmie is a veritable hiker’s buffet, with a multitude of options accessed by a paved road and spacious trailheads — not that they don’t fill up on busy days. Try the Granite Creek Trailhead, the next right-hand-side trailhead farther up the road from immensely popular Mailbox Peak, for an 8.8-mile round-trip hike to Granite Lakes. Camping is not permitted here, but if you push 2.1 more miles to Thompson Lake, you’ll be in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, where you can pitch a tent.

Note this hike starts on Washington Department of Natural Resources land, so you need a state Discover Pass ($30 annually) rather than the federal public lands passes described above.

Hyas Lake

Tucquala Meadows Trailhead, NF-4330, Ronald, Kittitas County

Follow Cle Elum Lake deep into the Wenatchee National Forest along Forest Road 4330 until it dead-ends at the Tucquala Meadows Trailhead. While the unpaved section of the road is quite long, it is generally well maintained. At the end of the road, you’ll find horse trailers, backcountry anglers and mountain climbers. Your destination, however, is a flat, easy 4 miles round trip to Hyas Lake. There are bountiful berries along the way, ample picnic and camping spots, and striking views of Cathedral Rock and Mount Daniel, King County’s tallest peak, if you venture to the upper lake.


Mirror and Cottonwood Lakes

Mirror Lake Trailhead, NF-5480, Snoqualmie Pass, Kittitas County

South of I-90 in the Snoqualmie Pass region, follow Forest Road 5480 to the Mirror Lake Trailhead west of Keechelus Lake. Park at the first lot unless you have a truly high-clearance vehicle, and even then you only save a half-mile. It’s 2.2 miles round trip to charming Mirror Lake near the Pacific Crest Trail. Halfway in, a spur trail takes you right to smaller Cottonwood Lake. Both are ideal swimming holes on a hot summer day.

Pete Lake

Pete Lake Trailhead, NF-113, Cle Elum, Kittitas County

Truth be told, you don’t even need to lace up your hiking boots to enjoy a spectacular lake on this excursion. The trail to Pete Lake begins at the Owhi Campground, home to Cooper Lake, a nonmotorized gem free from noisy boat traffic. But if you came all this way — along sometimes rough forest roads — you might as well meander the 9 miles out and back to Pete Lake, with a gradual 400 feet of elevation gain. Both Pete and Cooper lakes offer commanding views of snowcapped peaks. Kick back and enjoy the show.

Pratt Lake

Granite Mountain Trailhead, NF-9034, North Bend

Amid all the trail and road work in Snoqualmie Pass this summer, one just-off-the-highway trailhead has no planned closures: I-90 Exit 47, where the Granite Mountain Trailhead beckons less than a mile from the interstate. You’ll share the trailhead with peakbaggers heading up to the summit fire lookout on Granite, but the trail to Pratt Lake forks left early on.

If you’re looking for a shorter lake jaunt, this trail is also a backdoor approach to Olallie Lake, as a spur trail 3 miles into the hike leads that direction. But if you stick it out, the route to Pratt offers Rainier views along an 11-mile round-trip trek with 2,300 feet of vertical gain. The basin makes for a great backcountry camping destination.

Spectacle Lake

Pete Lake Trailhead, NF-113, Cle Elum, Kittitas County

If you are itching to make your backcountry camp lakeside, you could do much worse than Spectacle Lake, an absolute stunner at the base of the jagged Chikamin Ridge. But the price of admission is high: 11 miles one way from the Owhi Campground. While the trail only gains 1,500 vertical feet over that distance, some stretches of trail are rough, and crossing Lemah Creek can be formidable. Make way for thru-hikers on this remote stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail, then carefully pick your way down the rooty spur trail to the lake. An isthmus juts out into the water, dotted with prime campsites.