Gem Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Gem Lake // Hike the PNW

Distance Roundtrip: 10 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 2050 ft.
Highest Elevation: 4857 ft.
Location: Snoqualmie Pass
Lettering Medium:
 Brush Ink
Images taken with an iPhone6 & Moment Wide Lens

This was by far the most relaxing backpacking weekend Dustin and I have partook in. We got an early start because the trail begins at Snow Lake – the most popular (and over hiked) trail in the Alpine lakes Wilderness. When we arrived at the parking lot around 8:15 it was about a third full. We passed a number of day hikers on the way up and ran into a couple backpacking groups. Once we passed the first view point of Snow Lake, we only saw a few more groups before our destination. If your destination is Snow Lake, I recommend trekking around the lake a bit more – it’s not only gorgeous but substantially quieter than the main beach.Gem Lake // Hike the PNWGem Lake // Hike the PNWGem Lake // Hike the PNWGem Lake // Hike the PNWWe arrived at Gem Lake around 11:45 and were greeted by a very friendly Forest Ranger. He led us into his camp and pulled out a map of the area, pointing out various designated campsites. There were at least 15 sites on the map and then a handful of unofficial sites as well. Looking for a more serene weekend, we picked a quiet spot on top of the North Ridge overlooking the Cascades to the North and the Lake to the South. Most folks camped just left of the entrance to the lake in some meadows overlooking Gem. Those spots likely had the best view but we enjoyed our neighborless ridge.
Gem Lake // Hike the PNW We spent the rest of the day setting up camp, lounging in the sun and exploring nearby ridges and ponds. The mosquitos were pretty prevalent so a majority of our lounging happened inside the tent with our fly off. No complaints there though.
Gem Lake // Hike the PNW Once the sun set, we settled into our tent for an early night. I hear the stars were gorgeous but honestly I could barely open my eyes long enough to see them. And apparently cold glasses take a while to defog in the middle of the night. But Dustin assures me they we’re bright and beautiful.
Gem Lake // Hike the PNW In the morning I set my alarm for sunrise and after a couple snoozes I managed to crawl out of my insanely warm sleeping bag and snap some pics. Sadly my alarm snoozes resulted in a partially too sunny mountain backdrop but it was pretty nonetheless (more so in person). Next time I’ll set that alarm a bit earlier.

I crawled back into the tent and slept the rest of the morning, before breaking down camp and heading out. Once we passed the viewpoint for Snow Lake it was a slow hike back to the car. We must have stopped to let close to 300 people – maybe more – hike up to Snow Lake. The last stretch felt like it went on an on – we found ourselves sprinting between openings in groups, trying to make up for lost time. I couldn’t be more thankful we had camped at quiet Gem Lake.

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