Annette Lake Trail in November

Trail to Annette Lake

The Seasonal Farewell to the Alpine Lakes

On Tuesday, November 9th, I noticed it was snowing at all the passes in the Cascades. There's something exciting about seeing the first snowfall of the year, even though I was just watching it online through live webcams. There is also something sad about it at the same time. It begins to mark the end of the hiking season to the higher elevation trails that lead up to the many Alpine Lakes in the Cascades. Hiking to the many Alpine Lakes in Washington is a summertime favorite.

So, with the forecast showing the snow ending and sunshine for Wednesday, I mapped out our plans for one of the last ventures into an Alpine Lake region. The destination chosen was Annette Lake.

The Annette Lake trail is not a particularly difficult hike, and I've taken it a few times in the past couple of years. Being a local, I have, however, learned to hike this trail during the mid-week to avoid any crowds... especially in the summertime.

In the early going of the trail, you will hear the sounds of I-90 traffic, but as you continue upward they grow fainter and disappear. You'll cross an old service logging road, go under some large power line clearings and then another large trail that crosses your own within the first mile or so...but just keep watching for the signs to Annette Lake and you'll soon start climbing a bit more seriously.

The trail goes through some dense, tall trees and on this particular November day, just after the first snowfall, the trees and branches were covered with fresh snow. However, it was a beautiful sunny day, so the tops of the trees were melting - dropping the occasional few chunks of snow and ice upon us at times. Good thing I wore a cap! The combination of evergreens covered with fresh white snow against the backdrop of a blue sky is pure northwest heaven.

The trail has it's share of switchbacks with the occasional clearings, at small waterfalls, for views and photo ops of the mountains across the valley. The final mile of the trail levels out for a nice walk to Annette Lake, beautifully surrounded by the peaks of Humpback, Abiel and Silver. This is one lake that should be visited every year!

Annette Lake Trail: Quick Points

To get to the Annette Lake trailhead, take I-90 to exit 47. Follow Tinkham Road for less than a half mile to the parking lot. This is also the trailhead lot for the Asahel Curtis Trail. A Forest Pass is required to park, which you can pick up along the way at most any gas station.

Annette Lake is about an 8 mile roundtrip hike, in which you will gain almost 2,000 feet in elevation as you climb to the 3,600 foot level. You will encounter a few roots along the way, but the trail is not difficult.

Trail to Annette Lake
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