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Annette Lake Hike: moderate day hike that has it all

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Annette Lake hike in late fall. An alpine lake is surrounded by snow covered evergreen trees and snow is falling on a gray day
Annette Lake on a snowy late fall day (it’s awesome in summer too!)

Don’t freak out that there’s snow in this picture! This is an awesome summer hike too, this is just my favorite picture of Annette Lake! This particular day was early November with the first snow falling and it was still an amazing day. In the summer, the Annette Lake hike is a great place to enjoy a picnic, take a swim if you can brave the chilly water and to camp if you want to stay longer. The Annette Lake hike is not an easy hike, being about 8 miles with close to 2000 feet of elevation gain, but it’s also not super hard. It doesn’t ever get extremely steep, and most of the climbing is shaded. Make sure to bring lots of water and snacks as 8 miles is definitely going to take a few hours. In addition to the lake, there are quite a few wildflowers, especially in the more open sections, and lots of water as it crosses the creek a few times. Sound like fun? Read on! Looking for something easier and shorter? Try Cedar Butte. Looking for something harder or with bigger views? Try Bandera Mountain.

Is the Annette Lake Hike right for me?

If you’re game to hike 8 miles with a good bit of climbing, and want to see an alpine lake that is relatively close to Seattle (about an hour) and enjoy walking through forests past creeks and wildflowers, then the Annette Lake hike is a great choice!

When is a good time for the Annette Lake hike?

If you want the hike to be snow free, sometime in mid to late June through whenever the first big snow is in the fall (late October to early November) is generally a good time. Like most hikes close to Seattle along the I-90 corridor, it gets busy on weekends. You can alleviate this by going late in the day or really early in the morning, or on a weekday. There are views to be had on this hike, but the route itself as well as the lake are bigger attractions so this could be a good choice for a cloudy or even rainy day.

Where is Annette Lake?

Annette Lake is near Snoqualmie Pass just west of the summit area. Without traffic, it will take about an hour from Seattle. To get there, take I-90 east from Seattle to Exit 47 (signed Asahel Curtis). Go right over a bridge and at the T intersection, turn left. This will take you straight to the trailhead in less than a mile. You need a northwest forest pass or federal interagency pass to park here (not a discover pass). There is an outhouse at the trailhead.

Trail Description

Starting from the parking lot, follow the Annette Lake trail (right of the sign board). This is also the trailhead for the Asahel Curtis nature trail, which is an excellent short loop to see some old growth trees and a pretty waterfall if you have extra energy when you return!

The trail goes through the forest and in about a quarter of a mile you will come to a sturdy bridge over a beautiful falls on humpback creek

A river cascades among rocks in the forest on the Annette Lake hike
Falls on humpback creek great you in the first quarter mile of the Annette Lake Trail

Soon after, you will come to an open space passing under powerlines, an area with some gorgeous wildflowers including foxglove and fireweed.

A tall, thin stalk of bright purple flowers. In the background there is green vegetation
Foxglove bloom in late June and July along the open areas of the Annette Lake trail

In a bit over a mile from your starting point, you’ll cross the Cascades to Palouse Trail and the trail continues on the other side (there’s a brown sign). From here you start the steepest part of the climb through the forest for the next mile and a half or so.

A hiking trail winds through green trees and green underbrush in the forest along the trail on the Annette Lake hike
Most of the trail is through this peaceful green forest

At the end of this section, you’ll cross a more open and rocky slope (look for flowers and views here) and then the trail enters forest again and flattens out for the last section to the lake. Enjoy the lake until you’re ready to return and head back the way you came!

A tall, thin stalk of bright purple flowers. In the background there is green vegetation. Text reads: Hiking to Annette Lake near Seattle
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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!