Snow & Gem Lakes (Snoqualmie)

Snow Lake is a moderate, 6 mile in-and-out day hike with 1,300 feet of elevation gain. The trail goes up above the South Fork Snoqualmie River through forests and over a pass to a beautiful alpine lake. Gem Lake is 2.0 miles beyond Snow Lake for a more strenuous hike of 10 mile and 2,200 feet of elevation gain. Gem Lake's draw is not only its beautiful deep water, but the trip along the way. There are numerous waterfalls, pika habitats, and once you get past Snow Lake, the crowd dwindles dramatically.

on the trail

snow lake

The trail starts from the Snoqualmie Pass Alpental ski area and climbs 700 feet in the first 1.5 miles.  From there, you have a wonderful view of Snow Lake.  Descend about 200 feet to the lakes side. It's 6 miles round trip with 1,300 feet of elevation gain and a 4,400 ft high point.

gem lake

Follow the trail along its eastern edge of Snow Lake.  After a short way, climb past waterfalls, wildflowers, and rocky hills squeaking with pika, while gaining another 900 feet in 2.0 miles.  It's a total of 10 miles round trip with 2,200 feet of elevation gain and a 4,927 ft high point.

Melakwa, Chair, Gem & Snow Lakes

This route involves some scrambling and a car shuttle. The route passes five mountain lakes and three waterfalls. Stash at least one car at the Alpental parking lot. Start hiking at the Denny Creek trailhead and follow the trail to Melakwa Lake. Then scramble past Upper Melakwa Lake, cross Melakwa Pass, descend to Chair Lake, traverse to the northwest ridge of Mount Roosevelt, and follow it to Gem Lake. At Gem Lake, join the Gem Lake trail and follow it down and around Snow Lake and on to Alpental.  Scramble peaks along the way that can be added are Bryant Peak, Kaleetan Peak, Mount Roosevelt, Wright Mountain, and Rock Thunder Peak. It's 9.3 miles one-way with 4,400 feet of elevation gain and a high point of 5,600 ft.

FOr leaders

Permit information

As of 2017, the Snoqualmie Ranger District considers Mountaineers trips and courses to be "nominal use". Leaders should print and copy this designation letter to show rangers they may see on trail or carry a digital copy on their phone.

  • Suitable Activities: Day Hiking, Scrambling
  • Seasons: July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast.
  • Difficulty: Moderate, Strenuous 4, Technical 2
  • Length: 10.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 2,200 ft
  • 4,927 ft
  • Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass No. 207
  • Alpine Lakes Wilderness (ALPS)
  • Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass Gateway No. 207S
  • Trails Illustrated Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Red Marker
    47.445746, -121.423552
    47.4457457657 -121.423552037
  • Red Marker
    47.477886, -121.466432
    47.4778855499 -121.466431618

Upcoming Activities

Tacoma Explorers Hike - Snow & Gem Lakes (Snoqualmie)

Youth Field trip: Tacoma Explorers
Tacoma Explorers
Difficulty: Moderate, Strenuous 4, Technical 2
Sat, May 5, 2018
8 participants 5 chaperones
Registration closes May 3
Tacoma Branch
Trip Reports

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Snow Lake
  • Snow & Gem Lakes
  • Gem Lake
  • Snow Lake (Snoqualmie)
  • Melakwa, Chair, Gem & Snow Lakes

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