From Exit 52, turn right onto State Route 906 (road name may not be posted)
Almost immediately, turn right into the paved area next the sign, "The Summit at Snoqualmie" (not the gravel parking area just before the paved area)
Immediately turn right again into the first of two additional gravel parking areas and proceed 0.20 miles/0.30 km to the trailhead around to the left at the far end, marked "Pacific Crest Trail"
From westbound Interstate 90, take Exit 53
From Exit 53, turn left onto Yellowstone Road
Proceed under the freeway 0.20 miles/0.30 km to an intersection
Turn right onto State Route 906 (road name may not be posted) and proceed 0.60 miles/1.00 km to the Summit at Snoqualmie
Turn left into the paved area just past the sign, "Summit at Snoqualmie"
Immediately turn right into the first of two gravel parking areas and proceed 0.20 miles/0.30 km to the trailhead around to the left at the far end, marked "Pacific Crest Trail"
Forest Road 9070 Route:
From east- or westbound Interstate 90, take Exit 54
From Exit 54, turn right from eastbound/left from westbound onto State Route 906 (road name may not be posted) and proceed to the intersection of State Route 906 and Hyak Drive
Proceed straight onto Hyak Drive
Proceed 0.50 miles/0.80 km to end of Hyak Drive and turn right onto Treatment Plant Road/Forest Road 9070
Proceed 0.50 miles/0.80 km to a broad fork and take the left fork
Proceed 1.00 mile/1.60 km to a "T" intersection and continue straight (right)
Proceed 3.30 miles/5.10 km to the Pacific Crest Trail crossing at Windy Pass (for a total of 5.30 miles/8.50 km from the State Route 906/Hyak Drive intersection)
Note: Pavement ends shortly after Hyak Drive turns onto Treatment Plant Road/Forest Road 9070. Watch for potholes and washouts. As the Pacific Crest Trail merely crosses Forest Road 9070, there is no "trailhead," but look for small markers like the one below to identify the trail. Be sure to take the north (right) trail off the road. Forest Road 9070 is wide enough to accommodate parking along the road at the trail crossing.
Lying along the crest of the Cascades, the trail espies many of the surrounding peaks through forest openings. Here, Denny Mountain rises beyond the edge of Olallie Meadow. Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 26, 2020.
At the very top of Snoqualmie Pass, this short jaunt down the Pacific Crest Trail features mountain views, masses of summer wildflowers, and a duo of pleasant lakes. The trail ducks into forest at the trailhead, but shortly emerges onto the mountainside ski slopes, which it traverses for approximately 0.60 miles/1.00 km. The artificially treeless swath creates a permanent alpine meadow where wildflowers proliferate in the summer months (when not mown by the ski resort) and views stretch to the imposing peaks beyond the pass. After cresting the ridge above the slopes, the trail skirts marshy Beaver Lake and then enters lush, old-growth woodland for the remainder of its distance to Lodge Lake. The trail nearly passes Lodge Lake before a short side trail, marked by a small sign posted high on a trailside tree, departs for its southern shore on the right. The shoreline is boggy with dense forest continuing to its very edge, but a few lakeside logs provide vantages to enjoy the view.
Given its ease of access in the summer months, the trail to Lodge Lake can become quite busy on weekends and holidays, especially along the limited lakeshore; however, it makes a pleasant weekday getaway or roadside break. Given its popularity, the trail is also worn to bare rocks and roots in many places — be prepared with appropriate footwear or trekking poles as necessary for your comfort. If attempting this trail as a snowshoeing track in winter, beware of skiers crossing your path and check avalanche forecasts, as the vast, unobstructed mountainside has some potential for snowslides. The whir of traffic on nearby Interstate 90 is nearly constant, although it is lost occasionally in the otherwise tranquil woodland between the lakes.
Past Lodge Lake, the Pacific Crest Trail continues (all the way to Mexico), offering options to extend your hike to points beyond. Olallie Meadow, just 2.60 miles/4.20 km farther, is a convenient turnaround. The less-trodden trail generally flattens, continuing through mostly second-growth conifer forest. Halfway to the meadow, it crosses a great boulderfield, which affords views of the upper Snoqualmie Valley far below and its many surrounding peaks. Just beyond the talus and the Rockdale Creek crossing (which is easily accomplished on the plentiful stones amid the stream), the trail joins one of the many sinuous turns and offshoots of Forest Road 9070; turn right onto the road and follow it for almost 0.30 miles/0.50 km until signage indicates where the trail continues left. A little farther, the trail again crosses the road, but is easily seen on its opposite side. Along the road, keep an eye out for several official Pacific Crest Trail posts (or their remnants) that mark the correct route. The rumble of traffic trundling down Interstate 90 on the valley floor below disappears shortly before the trail reaches Olallie Meadow, rendering it a peaceful respite seemingly far from anywhere. Around the meadow — which is actually more a bog — look for unique alpine flora and try to guess what forest creatures left the many hoof and paw prints visible on its soft edges.
The meadow and lakes can also be reached in reverse order by accessing the Pacific Crest Trail farther south on Forest Road 9070 at Windy Pass, per the “Directions to Alternate Route” above, although, depending on conditions, the road may not be suitable for all vehicles. The round-trip distance is similar, as Olallie Meadow lies a scant 0.50 miles/0.80 km from Forest Road 9070. At Windy Pass, one can also add a little or a lot of distance to the hike by picking up either the nearby Mount Catherine Trail or Cold Creek-Pacific Crest Trail loop along Forest Road 9070.
Minutes from the trailhead, the trail enters the vast ski slopes above Snoqualmie Pass, angling up and over the wooded ridge beyond. Near the top, look for the rocky trail to veer right before the gravel service road it crosses continues up to the cell phone towers above. Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 13, 2020.
The traverse across the trail’s open ski slopes affords impressive views of the summits that rise north of Snoqualmie Pass, including, from left to right, Snoqualmie Mountain, Guye Peak, Red Mountain, and Kendall Peak. Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 13, 2020.
A host of vivid wildflowers throngs the sunny mountainside and forest verges, including, first column, top to bottom, scarlet paintbrushes (Castilleja miniata), oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare), and Sitka valerians (Valeriana sitchensis); second column, top to bottom, yellow, or, meadow hawkweeds (Hieracium caespitosum), orange hawkweeds (H. aurantiacum), and common self-heals (Prunella vulgaris); third column, top to bottom, subalpline fleabanes (Erigeron glacialis), thimbleberries (Rubus parviflorus), and subalpine spireas (Spiraea splendens); and, fourth column, top to bottom, western pearly everlastings (Anaphalis margaritacea), western false asphodels (Triantha occidentalis ssp.), and common, or, hairy cat’s-ears (Hypochaeris radicata). Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 13-18, 2020.
Just beyond the ridge above the ski slopes, the trail skirts the length of Beaver Lake. Short boot paths leading to its brushy edge, where the northeastern view frames Guye Peak and Red Mountain. Beaver Lake is more a large pond, its shallow depth given away by the abundant vegetation that grows from just beneath much of its surface. Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 13, 2020.
Shortly beyond Beaver Lake, the trail enters pleasant, old-growth woodland that surrounds Lodge Lake. Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 17, 2020.
Ringed by heavy forest, Lodge Lake is a pleasant surprise as it comes into view at the end of a short side trail. Denny Mountain’s South Peak peers above the horizon across the lake. Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 13, 2020.
In the woodlands around the lakes — and even in the lakes — look for other, paler wildflowers, including, clockwise from top left, dwarf brambles (Rubus lasiococcus), broadleaf arnicas (Arnica latifolia), blueleaf, or, Virginia strawberries (Fragaria virginiana), buck-beans (Menyanthes trifoliata), spatterdock, or, yellow pond lilies (Nuphar polysepala), queen’s cups (Clintonia uniflora), and western bunchberries (Cornus unalaschkensis), and, in the center, two-leaved false Solomon’s seals (Maianthemum dilatatum). Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 13-17, 2020.
Past the lakes, the trail continues through heavy forest with occasional openings to mountainscapes beyond. At approximately 2.70 miles/4.30 km from the trailhead, a vast talus slope offers views of the peaks across the Snoqualmie Valley, including McClellan Butte (left), Bandera Mountain (center), and Granite Mountain (right). Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 26, 2020.
As the trail wheels onto Forest Road 9070 for a short distance, additional summits come into view above Interstate 90, including Low Mountain (left), the ridge consisting of Chair Peak, Bryant Peak, Hemlock Peak, The Tooth, and Denny Mountain (center), and Snoqualmie Mountain (right). Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 26, 2020.
Where the trail intersects or follows Forest Road 9070, look for Pacific Crest Trail markers to confirm the route. Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 26, 2020.
Olallie Meadow’s tranquil expanse lies approximately 4.40 miles/7.10 km from the trailhead. Although grassy in appearance, the meadow is boggy with scattered standing water that harbors frogs and unusual alpine flora. Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 26, 2020
Additional wildflowers populate Olallie Meadow and the surrounding trailsides, including, top row, left to right, mountain gentians (Gentiana calycosa), alpine leafybract asters (Symphyotrichum foliaceum), lovage (Ligusticum sp.), and slender bog orchids (Platanthera stricta); middle row, left to right, fringed grasses-of-Parnassus (Parnassia fimbriata), sylvan goat’s beards (Aruncus dioicus), western, or, Sitka columbines (Aquilegia formosa), and hooded ladies’-tresses orchids (Spiranthes romanzoffiana); and bottom row, left to right, American twinflowers (Linnaea borealis), white rhododendrons, or, Cascade azaleas (Rhododendron albiflorum), English, or, great sundews (Drosera anglica), and common beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax). Pacific Crest Trail, Section I, July 26 and August 30, 2020.
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HesperosFlown.com is created and authored by Anthony Colburn, a Pacific Northwest native, avid hiker, incidental naturalist, and amateur photographer.
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