If you're looking for an avalanche-free snowshoe to mountain lakes with moderate elevation gain,Granite Lakes is the place to go. It's close to Seattle just a few miles outside of North Bend up the Middle Fork. It's a long hike though and you will have to carry your snow shoes on your backpack for the first mile or two since we start at low elevation. I use bungie cords to hold my snowshoes onto my pack.
Distance: 11 miles roundtrip
Elevation: Upper GraniteLake - 3000 feet
Maps: Green Trails Bandera No. 206
In the summer, the views are marred somewhat by the presence of recovering clearcuts. But in the winter, this just doesn't matter. The trail offers gradual elevation gain and on clear days views open up to Mt. Bessemer and others. If we make it to the lakes, we will be rewarded with views of nearby Mailbox Peak, Webb Mountain, and Mt. Defiance.
From the Meetup point at Sno Valley Coffee, we will carpool and caravan to the trailhead which is about a quarter mile up from the Mailbox Peak parking lot, or 15 minutes from Sno Valley Coffee. A Discover Pass is required at the trailhead.
Bring warm cloths, snow shoes, sun glasses, and your camera and sun screen. Snow reflect a lot of light.
If it's a stormy day, this hike will be shortened.