CHS 2 Hike - Wildcat Lakes

Field trip: Conditioning Hiking Series

CHS 2 Hike - Wildcat Lakes

CHS 2 Graduation Hike to Upper Wildcat Lake. We will weave and dodge hiking enthusiasts on their way to visit the most popular alpine lake in Washington state, Snow Lake! It’s truly spectacular! After we leave the crowds behind, we will hike to Gem Lake, a true aquamarine jewel that sparkles among the alpine lakes. We will hike down, down, and down some more to Lower Wildcat Lake, a serene beauty nestled in the alpine basin. We will be reward for our efforts with wild huckleberries and blueberries as we continue our very steep climb to Upper Wildcat Lake, a lake so isolated it’s an idyllic oasis for those who crave complete solitude and respite. This is the hike for you if you love alpine lakes, water crossings over log bridges, wild berries, and route finding. CHS hike led at a CHS 2 pace (2.0-3.0 mph)

  • Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 17.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 4,000 ft
  • Pace: 2.0-3.0 mph

Location: Snow Lake Trailhead

Meeting Time:  7:30am   Boots on the Trail:  7:45am

Directions:  Use google maps for directions to Snow Lake Trailhead.  The WTA recommends these directions:  Drive on I-90 to exit 52. Take this exit and head for Alpental Road. This is a left turn when eastbound and a right when westbound. Continue about 1.5 miles to the parking lot and trailhead. Note that this is the trailhead to one of the most popular hikes in Washington. You will have lots of company on the majority of this hike.

 Parking Pass:  Federal Northwest Forest Pass/America the Beautiful. You can purchase an annual pass or print a one day pass or an electronic pass here.

 Carpooling: Meet at Tibbetts Valley Skatepark in Tibbetts Valley Park, 1600 Newport Way NW, Issaquah, WA 98027  at 6:15am.  Load up and depart by 6:30am.  Google maps will provide accurate driving directions to Issaquah Tibbetts Valley SkateparkIts approximately 45 minutes to the trailhead.


Weather: Please check the local weather the night before and the morning of the hike at NWS for Snow Lake to Upper Wildcats Lakes.  If the trail conditions and or the weather is unfavorable, the hike will be canceled or rescheduled for a different location.

Sturdy water-proof footwear and trekking poles are REQUIRED! You must bring trekking poles and be prepared to use them for water crossing and traversing the very steep sections of this trail. If you are not prepared to use trekking poles, then please consider joining another hike. 

Vault toilets are available at the trailhead.

Please bring small, energizing snacks that are easily consumed during our short 5-minute breaks that you can eat on the go! We will need to be very cautious as we hike down to Lower Wildcat Lake as there are steep drop offs on the seemingly endless switchbacks into this alpine basin. A treat will be provided during our lunch break, a well-deserved energizing GF treat after our very steep ascent to Upper Wildcat Lake.

My co-leader, Phoebe, and I, are looking forward to sharing this 4-Alpine-Lakes hike with you. More details about this hike will be provided in the “Hello Hiker” email.


Snow & Gem Lakes (Snoqualmie)

  • Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass No. 207

    Alpine Lakes Wilderness (ALPS)

    Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass Gateway No. 207S

    Trails Illustrated Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Ten Essential Systems

  1. Navigation (map & compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)
Trip Reports