“A nice and steady trail along an old logging road with great views of the Cascades and Mt Rainier as a payoff.
— Jessie Morris
Sno-Park Pass required ($20 for a day pass)
This trail is close to the Seattle area, so in about an hour's drive, you'll be parked and on your way. The grade is fairly easy making this for a nice outing through the forest. Because of its proximity to the metro area and Snoqualmie, it can get pretty crowded, so brace yourself for crowds and tricky parking if you come on the weekend or a nice day. The views along the way and at the top pay off in big ways and on a clear day you can see down to Mt. Rainier. Beautiful!
Best to have cash on hand for Sno-Park day pass if you don't already have one.
There are porta potties available at the trailhead in variable conditions.
Please pick up after your dogs - leaving a plastic bag on the trail for everyone to see unfortunately doesn't cut it. We saw far too much of this on our nice day out.
The trailhead is directly off the east side of the Hyak Exit 54, just past Snoqualmie Ski Area (if you're coming from the Seattle area, you'll turn left under the interstate). You'll come to Gold Creek Sno-Park area immediately, note that it can get very busy but parking is typically available along Lake Mardee Rd (it may just tack on some distance to your outing).
This route is very easy to follow - just stay on the old logging road all the way up, following switchbacks. If you're out with family or want to cut the distance down, there are incredible views about 2-3 miles up that make for a great turnaround point, or a good place to stop for snacks. Past that, the elevation continues to climb steadily and peaks out at about a 2,000 foot elevation gain from the trailhead (at about 4,500 ft elevation).
Near the top, Kendall Peak Lakes are visible if you look northwest-ish from the last fork in the bend before you start turning to the right southbound, about a quarter of a mile from the turnaround point. If you make it to the top where this route ends, there are incredible views of the Cascade Mountains, and looking south you can see Mt. Rainier on a clear day. These views are arguably better than the lakes.
For our outing, snowshoeing on a packed trail, in average condition, we completed this route in a little under 4 hours - that included stopping for lots of photos, snacks at the top and a pretty quick pace downhill. In the summer months, this time will certainly vary.
This route is an old logging road.