There are good reasons the Annette Lake Trail near Snoqualmie Pass is popular. The trail is close to Seattle, easy to access and in good condition, with only one minor blow-down on the route. The elevation gain is substantial enough to provide a moderate workout followed by a cool-down or lunch, or both, at Annette Lake.
The Lake (3,600 feet) is a pretty subalpine lake nestled below Silver and Abiel peaks and provides several suitable lunch spots and campsites. It is 3.5 miles to the lake, making it a good beginner's or early-season backpack, since the trail melts out earlier than many trails near Snoqualmie Pass.
A warning, however: If you are seeking solitude, you'd best look elsewhere because you are likely to have plenty of company. Don't count on having the trail to yourself on a weekday either -- the parking lot was half-full on a recent Wednesday.
If you can tolerate crowds on this dog-friendly trail, the lake is large enough that you can find a quiet nook tucked away in the evergreens along the shore. Or come back in the winter with snowshoes -- maybe the only time you won't find crowds.
The Annette Lake Trail (No. 1019) begins at 1,900 feet (in mid-June there was a temporary trail sign near the trailhead) and follows an old road a short distance to a crossing of Humpback Creek, one of the most scenic spots along the trail. The trail continues through the forest and intersects the Iron Horse Trail at 2,400 feet, about a mile from the trailhead.
The signed trail continues on the other side of the railroad grade and crosses Humpback Creek again before resuming its climb. In late June, there were many flowers and rock gardens along the trail. Lush Canadian dogwood (bunchberry) was dressing up old stumps and, where the snow had just melted out, glacier lilies and trilliums could still be seen.
Deep, cool forest alternates with open areas that offer good views of Humpback Mountain and the valley below. The trail crosses a small creek and the steep switchbacks relent during the final mile. The last quarter mile of the trail was still under snow when we visited, but enough hikers had been there that the route was easy to follow. The snow should be gone by now. Most of the campsites around the lake have already melted out.
Silver Peak rises above the lake (on your left as you approach the lake). At 5,605 feet, Silver Peak is a popular year-round challenge for scramblers and strong hikers. The peak can be accessed from either the Annette Lake Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail 2000. Silver Peak can be done as a snowshoe trip in winter, but in summer strong hikers consider it more of a cross-country hike than a scramble.
For a taste of solitude before or after hiking to the lake, check out the Ashael Curtis Nature Trail (No. 1023), which begins from the same trailhead. The trail crosses Humpback Creek on a new or nearly new bridge and makes a quiet one-mile loop through old-growth forest. We encountered only one other hiker on the loop. Some of the benches placed along the trail have been there long enough that tiny flowers and mosses have taken root in the wood.
GETTING THERE: From Seattle drive east on I-90 and get off at Exit 47. Go right for .1 mile on Forest Road 55, and then left onto Forest Service Road 5590. Continue about .3 mile to the trailhead and parking lot, elevation 1,900 feet.
TRAIL DATA: Annette Lake is about 7.5 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of about 1,700 feet. The Ashael Curtis Nature trail is 1 mile, elevation gain about 180 feet. The map is Green Trails No. 207 Snoqualmie Pass.
INFORMATION: Contact the Snoqualmie Ranger District (North Bend) at[masked], or refer to the third edition of "100 Hikes in Washington's South Cascades and Olympics" by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning (Mountaineers, 254 pages, $14.95) or "55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie Pass Mountains-to-Sound Greenway" by Harvey Manning and Ira Spring (Mountaineers, 189 pages, $14.95).
Only RSVP YES if you know you are going to attend. If your plans change, update your RSVP to NO as soon a possible to give someone else a chance to go in your place.
Directions. We will meet on the ground floor of the new Issaquah transit center to carpool to the trail head.
Bring some cash to cover the car pool fee. 10-15 cents per mile is suggested for riders.
Note: A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trail head.