Miles: 2.5 miles RT
Elevation Gain/Highest: 500ft/3780ft
Map: Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass No. 207 and my GAIA.
1/6/2018 Our goal today was just to get out of the house with all the kids despite the less than perfect PNW forecast of snow mixed with rain. There really hasn’t been much new snow recently, so we knew we would probably have to head all the way up to the pass to make it worth venturing out.
Source Lake was our destination because we knew we wouldn’t have to deal with a long forest road and fall short of the trailhead. This is usually not an issue but we had at least one kiddo who was marginal on the whole trip and we wanted nothing but success! We were able to drive all the way to the end of the road and started our trip from the groomed trail on the northwest corner of the lot. It is possible to start closer to the resort on the Snow Lake Trail, following the river on the north side, then circle around Source Lake and come back on the south side. We opted to just take the south side in and out.
We started on the trail just before 10am at about 3190 feet and only gained about 500ft by the time we got to the lake as it runs ran along the south side of the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. And when I say lake, I mean pond mostly covered with snow. The big draw here is the ridge that surrounds and towers above Source Lake that takes those willing to make the climb up to Snow Lake. It’s important to note this is a high avalanche area, so check out my link to current conditions above.
We saw at least 3 debris fields on our trek today, the first one about .85 miles in. Chair and Bryant Peak rising above to the west are most likely the source for all the snow, low clouds today kept them from our view. You can read about the major avalanche of 1999 that devastated the forest around the lake, a good reminder to always be prepared, even if that means choosing another trail.
There was one well trampled trail to follow, in addition to multiple social trails down to the river in search of the waterfalls that cascade down from the lake. Both SMR (Seattle Mountain Rescue) and members of NWAC (Northwest Avalanche Center) were out today and half the folks we saw had skiis. We didn’t stay long at the lake as two from our group had turned back near the beginning because one was not feeling well and we were back to the car by 11:30am with time to stop at the Red Mountain Coffee rest stop for hot cocoa and coffee.
Directions: This hike starts from a service road at the north end of the main Alpental parking lot. Head east on I-90 from Seattle and take exit 52. Keep left and turn left under the freeway. Follow the road as it bends right and passes the ski resort and lifts. Continue to the end of the road and the parking lot.