Hike review taken from attrition:
Directions: From Seattle take Interstate 90 east to Exit 52/Snoqualmie Pass. Turns left, and in one-quarter mile, turn right and drive two miles to the Alpental Ski Area. The trailhead is to the right of the Road Closed sign in the parking lot at the roads end. If you park on the Road you don't need a Forest service pass - and they do ticket here
Trail Notes: I had a late night, so it followed that I got a late start on the my hiking day. So with that in mind I thought, something in Snoqualmie pass would be a fun destination. With that in mind I decided on Snow Lake, which as it turns out became Gem Lake as well.
I knew that Snow Lake was going to be a crowded destination, I just didn't know how crowded. Geeky me, I acutally counted the cars in the parking lots (there's more than one lot now) and counted 110 cars. I was sure I was going to run into an abundance of people on the trail and in fact did meet a bunch. Making my way up the first section of the trail was pretty easy but it felt like I was on a conveyor belt. Certainly is true to say, that while you might not always be in eye shot of someone else you certainly are within ear shot of them. The people coming down the trail ran the gamut of seasoned backpacker in dismay over the the uphill moving crowds to perfume scented ladies. Still I found the situation surreal.
So I found myself arriving at the ridge to snow lake in about an hour, and then began the decent to Snow Lake itself. It was a beutiful day as the pictures atest but the crowds were still thick. So being the predictable guy I am, I continued on towards Gem lake, with the initial thought of checking up on the trail work on this section of the trail. The new trail work appears to be complete. Several of the sections have been smoothed out or otherwise enhanced. Still the most radical change of the trail comes as you near Gem Lake itself. The trail to Gem Lake used to climb up the outflow of the late, along a rather steep slope. Now the new trail takes a more measured approach along a talus slope. Af first I didn't think i would like the new trail, but it was an improvement.
Gem Lake itself was quite nice, and there were only a couple people here. Still I found the situation to be peaceful. The return trip was uneventful save for the people on the trail. So I guess on balance Snow Lake continues to be crowded and Gem Lake still considerably less. If you are looking for solitude the barrier to entry has to be a little bit higher, and you would best be suited to an alternate hike. However, if you are looking for some world class scenery and some company Gem and Snow Lake might just be the hike for you.
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 and a stop for ice cream after the hike. 10-15 cents per mile is suggested for riders.
Note: A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trail head.