Annette Lake and Asahel Curtis Nature Trail

Trail Highlights:Old-growth forest; lake views; mountain views
Round-trip Distance:0.75 miles / 1.20 km (Asahel Curtis Nature Trail)
6.80 miles / 11.00 km (Annette Lake Trail)
Location:Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest,
Snoqualmie Pass / Snoqualmie Valley, Washington Central Cascades

Ancestral lands of the Snoqualmie
  • From east- or westbound Interstate 90, take Exit 47
  • From Exit 47, turn right from eastbound/left from westbound onto Tinkham Road/Forest Road 55 (road name may not be posted)
  • Proceed 0.10 miles/0.16 km to intersection
  • Turn left onto Asahel Curtis Road/Forest Road 5590 (road name may not be posted)
  • Proceed 0.30 miles/0.50 km to the parking lot on the right
  • Required Pass:Northwest Forest Pass or equivalent for U.S. Forest Service sites
    Additional Trail Info:Washington Trails Association (Asahel Curtis Nature Trail)
    U.S. Forest Service (Asahel Curtis Nature Trail)
    Washington Trails Association (Annette Lake Trail)
    U.S. Forest Service (Annette Lake Trail)

    The Asahel Curtis Nature Trail and Annette Lake Trail branch from side-by-side trailheads.  On the left is the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail, a short loop trail that can be enjoyed on its own or as a worthwhile addition to a jaunt up to Annette Lake by the trail on the right.  The Asahel Curtis Nature Trail loops through one of the last remaining pockets of old-growth woodland in the Snoqualmie River Valley and is named for Asahel Curtis, an early photographer of nature in Washington, Yukon, and Alaska. Its relatively flat tread ambles through lush, many-storied woodland ranging from ferns and orchids peeping from the forest shadows to lofty, old-growth giants draping their evergreen canopy over all.  Numerous small signs along the trail provide a self-guided tour with descriptions of many trailside features. Although not an ADA-accessible trail, the nature trail’s short distance and gentle grade offer a pleasant woodland experience to those who may not wish to undergo the rigors of a more strenuous hike.  Just off of Interstate 90, the nature trail also provides a scenic break on a long drive (a privy is available at the nearby Asahel Curtis Picnic Area); however, the freeway whir is always within earshot.

    The rightward trail to Annette Lake climbs moderately along the slopes of Silver Peak through varied stands of dense, mostly old-growth conifer forest laced with cheery rivulets.  Along the way, glimpses of Humpback Mountain open to the west. The upper portion of the trail is also interrupted by massive boulderfields that are Silver Peak’s winter and spring avalanche chutes — when snow is present, be sure to check avalanche reports before hiking this trail.  The trail’s destination is a jewel-hued lake set beyond a heavy forest fringe that reaches to the very water’s edge.  Beyond the trailhead, the rush of Interstate 90 is soon lost among the woodland folds, but do expect the company of other hikers, as Annette Lake is a popular hiking destination.

    Along the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail, sturdy bridges span branches of Humpback Creek (top), tree roots lace the forms of long-gone forebears, (lower left), curious fungi dot the wayside (middle center), small wildlife move about the shadows (lower center), wildflowers glow in shifting sunbeams (here, Pacific, or, western coralroot orchids, Corallorhiza mertensiana) (middle right), and deer fern (Blechnum spicant syn. Struthiopteris spicant) fiddleheads rear like dueling dragons (lower right).
    Asahel Curtis Nature Trail, Washington.


    The Annette Lake Trail climbs moderately through shadowy, mostly old-growth evergreen forest with a lush summertime understory of huckleberry and blueberry species (Vaccinium spp.). Annette Lake Trail, Washington.
    Near the trailhead, a bridge crosses Humpback Creek’s sometimes trickling, sometimes roaring waters.
    Annette Lake Trail, Washington.
    Boulders strew the lower trailside. Keep an eye out for this curiously fractured stone standing with its top half balanced askew. Annette Lake Trail, Washington.
    At approximately 1.00 mile/1.60 km from the trailhead, the trail crosses a swath cut into the forest for power lines. A short distance later, the forest again opens at the trail’s intersection with the broad Iron Horse Trail, which follows an old rail line across the state to Idaho. To rejoin the trail to Annette Lake, look for a wooden sign on the opposite side of the Iron Horse trail to locate the often overgrown forest entrance. Annette Lake Trail, Washington.
    Wildflowers dot the forest about both the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail and the Annette Lake Trail, including, first column, top to bottom, fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium syn. Chamerion angustifolium) and purple (and not-so-purple) foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) (non-native); second column, two-leaved false Solomon’s seals (Maianthemum dilatatum), vanillaleaves, or, sweets-after-death (Achlys triphylla), and thimbleberries (Rubus parviflorus); third column, American twinflowers (Linnaea borealis), western bunchberries (Cornus unalaschkensis), and woodland pinedrops (Pterospora andomedea); fourth column, yellow avalanche-lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum), fool’s-huckleberries (Rhododendron menziesii), star-flowered false Solomon’s seals (Maianthemum stellatum), and subalpine spiraeas (Spiraea splendens); fifth column, pioneer violets (Viola glabella), salmonberries (R. spectabilis), round-leaved rein or bog orchids (Platanthera orbiculata), and oval-leaf huckleberries (Vaccinium ovalifolium); sixth column, western rattlesnake plantains, or, rattlesnake orchids (Goodyera oblongfolia), red elderberries (Sambucus racemosa), and Pacific trilliums (Trillium ovatum); and, seventh column, cut-leaf foamflowers (Tiarella trifoliata), queen’s cups, or, bead lilies (Clintonia uniflora), and Hooker’s fairy bells (Prosartes hookeri). Asahel Curtis Nature Trail and Annette Lake Trail, Washington.
    In winter and spring, avalanches sweep down several chutes on Silver Peak that extend from high above the trail and disappear from sight as they plunge toward Humpback Creek far below. Be sure to check avalanche forecasts before setting out or avoid the trail altogether while snow is present. Annette Lake Trail, Washington.
    Upon reaching Annette Lake, Abiel Peak is first to greet the sight, rising above the lake’s southern shore. Snow often lingers into summer around the lake and surrounding peaks.
    Annette Lake, Washington.
    Annette Lake’s eastern shore offers an expansive view of Humpback Mountain — including its arched upper spine from which it derives its name. Annette Lake Trail, Washington.
    Silver Peak bounds Annette Lake’s eastern shore, its summit obscured beyond the curve of its steeply pitched slope. In early summer, a large waterfall — more readily heard than seen — dashes down Silver Peak’s shaggy mountainside into the lake below, but disappears completely by the end of summer when the mountaintop snow has melted.
    Annette Lake Trail, Washington.
    From the slight elevation of the lake’s west end, the vivid turquoise hue of its waters is especially apparent.
    Annette Lake Trail, Washington.

    © 2014-2024 Anthony Colburn. Images may not be used or reproduced in any form without express written consent.


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