Washington Trails: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/annette-lake
Location: 47.3927, -121.4744
Mountain Range: Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest (#1019)
Distance: 7.5 miles, roundtrip
Time: 3.5hrs (2hrs up, 1.5hrs down)
Elevation gain: 1400 ft.
Highlights: mountain views, clear cuts, bridges, waterfalls and an alpine lake
Date Completed: November 28, 2015
It doesn’t quite feel like the holidays until you’ve seen a light dusting of snow that finally sticks to the ground. It gently covers everything in sight and makes you feel pure bliss for wintertime, if only for a brief moment. We couldn’t have picked a better trail to experience pure bliss on than Annette Lake Trail in North Bend, WA.
Just a quick 50 min drive from Seattle, and only 3 minutes off the highway (you’ll hear the drone of speeding cars for the first 20 minutes), means you can easily make this a regular hike if you live in the city. It’s got a little bit of everything: mountain views, clear cuts, bridges, waterfalls and of course the lake. There’s a large parking lot at the trailhead, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a spot.
The trail starts out immediately along Humpback Creek, which you cross via bridge, giving you a close view of the tumbling falls. There’s a series of switchbacks, followed by periods of slight uphills and breaks in the trees that gave us a spectacular view of the snow on the mountainside. The patterns created by the light were quite the sight.
When the trail levels off, you’re not far from the lake. Up one gradual incline to view of the lake and the snowy mountainside. Ice had already begun to form on the lake (don’t fall on your ass like I did), but Cooper was all too eager to jump right in.
On the way down we could see mountains illuminated in the distance by the quickly setting sun. Granite Mountain to the north and Humpback Mountain to the west both had a glow. We started late in the day, around 1pm, so we had to trek the final few miles down in darkness. Headlamps did the trick just fine though—the trail is well maintained so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting lost since the snow clears out as you move down.
Absolutely don’t leave the house without a hat, gloves, and perhaps some hiking poles or crampons if you have them. Don’t wear gym shoes like the poor girl we saw crawling her way down. Even with hiking boots on, we fell a few times…
Also consider stopping by North Bend afterwards for a bite to eat and to look around. The tiny town is a nice escape from the big city if you want to take it easy. If you’re not quite ready to embrace the holiday season and a snowy hike, listen to this and go check out Tavern Law‘s tiki drink menu. You’ll warm up to the idea in no time.
Spoiler Alert: Trail Play-By-Play
3 minute drive off the highway
Starts with a steep incline
Promptly cross Humpback Creek
Quick switchbacks in a rocky field under electrical towers
Wooded, wide trail
Cross over a service road, veering ever so slightly to the right to continue
Jump over small waterfall
Flat ground to the lake