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we did this hike on New Years Eve and again this past Sunday. One of our favorites for sure. NYE there was allot of snow, obviously fresh and super cold. This past weekend, much of the snow was gone and the lake wasnt as frozen. Two very different hikes and very different views along the way with and without the snow. Cant wait to come back in the summer to camp! Easy in and out very little elevation. Just enough to get your heart rate up a bit and then your there. LOTS of dogs off their leashes would be my only negative comment. We brought 3 dogs both times and kept them leashed for caution both times.

There was some confusion if we should take ext 52 or 47 thanks to Apple maps. We chose to go with ext 47. The gate to the FSR is closed. We parked on the street near the gate. It was Sunday afternoon so there were plenty of places to park. We knew that we would be racing against the sun but are pretty fit, experienced, and prepared. There is ice on the two mile stretch of road you have to hike to get to the trail head. The trail itself is covered in snow and ice. I would not have attempted this trail without micro spikes. With warmer temps I was careful to stay on the trail and not get too close to the edge (could easily slip or snow could give way on the cliff side). Round trip this hike ends up about 8 miles. From the gate and back it took us about 2.5 hours round trip, including our stop at the falls.

snowshoeing
4 days ago

1/13/2019

Enjoyed the scenery and walking in the snow. When the app says the trail has heavy traffic that’s an understatement. It was like Walmart on Black Friday with one lane in and out of the sno-park because of so many cars parked on the side of the road. People and dogs everywhere; like the house chaos of Home Alone except outside.

The snow is too compact to actually snowshoe for realz. Just did it for funz!

Beautiful easy hike. Trail was icy. Yax Trax came in handy. The first bridge over the water was icy and kinda scary to cross. Road to the trailhead was bare but there was ice in some spots. Parking lot has snow in it but drivable.

on Snow Lake Trail

hiking
5 days ago

I hiked on Friday. This was my first time doing a snow hiking so it’s little bit difficult for me. Just made 2/3 of the trail because the snow was deeper in the last 1/3 and the trail was so narrow. I def. hike again with a better preparation to complete the trail. The scenery was very beautiful tho.

hiking
5 days ago

Hiked as far as we could today- a recent avvy slide completely demolished the rest of the trail right before reaching the lake. Multiple hikers that got there before us said they tried going around it right, then left, and ultimately couldn’t make it to the lake. Some of them had GPS and still didn’t make it to the lake.
Otherwise a beautiful hike! There was a decent amount of snow, although we didn’t need snowshoes. We just had microspikes and we were absolutely fine. The snow on the trail was decently padded down when we went and it was warm enough that there was no ice- the microspikes just gave us good grip on compact snow.
Didn’t see any extreme signs of imminent avvy danger, besides the recent slide that ended up stopping our hike early. There is water running through the trail area and one stream was noticeably running underneath a small snowfield, but it wasn’t too steep of a grade and didn’t concern me.

hiking
6 days ago

Went up today! Beautiful hike. With snow plows, needed to jump up to trail head. Hiked with spikes for 1.75 miles then lost trail. You could see the divots but didn’t bring snowshoes so decided to turn back. Saw a few hikers, snowshoers & cross country skiers. Maybe they good blaze the trail. A few slides in open fields. Fun streams to cross

Great little hike. Easy to get to, plenty of parking and the trail is packed so it’s easy to navigate. Fresh snow fell so all the trees are coated and the lake is gorgeous. Definitely worth the drive from Tacoma.

Such a nice great little hike. My husband and I hiked with our kids and my brother in law. It gets a little steep towards the end and but over all an easy great hike with a beautiful view

hiking
10 days ago

Took us 2 hours up, 1.5hr down. The whole trail has snow on it, but the first half of the trail was packed down snow. We had spikes on the whole time, but snow shoes would be good for the last half of the trail since we started blazing the trail. There was only one area that was a difficult to get up. Definitely need poles! There was one other group in front of us making a trail since you can't see it eventually. Once we started hiking down we saw a lot more groups hiking up.

Beautiful, but super busy trail. Since the road is closed prior to the trailhead it adds an additional long, boring walk (approx 2-3 miles each way). The trail was super slick when we visited, we saw a few people managing with hiking boots but they were moving very slowly. Bring microspikes-it really helped!! Also, turn left once you see the sign for “franklin falls parking,” don’t follow the sign for parking - turn left then the trailhead will be on your right!

Beautiful in the snow :)

Love hiking in the winter as a rainy day or break alt from skiing. Multiple stream crossings are my son’s (5) favorite. Watch out for streams filling up. Need grippy shoes (we turned the hike back into a slip and slide due to my son’s Bogs). We only have done the first mile. Definitely coming back in the summer for some backpacking.

snowshoeing
14 days ago

Came prepared for the snow, wasn't expecting all the rain. Despite only having water-resistant clothing (and being soaked-to-the-bone when done), this trail was perfect for a quick, easy, and beautiful snowshoeing fix! From the road, it was about a half mile walk to reach the pond. Quite a few people out making the trek to the pond, but had the trail around Gold Creek Pond completely to ourselves. Gorgeous views and plenty peaceful. Only issue to report has been addressed by other reviewers. There were a lot of folks with dogs out there and a lot of waste left behind scattering the trail up to the pond.

We tried to do this trail yesterday. Snow made it difficult to find the whole trail. There is blue and orange flags to help navigate. Still only found a little trail. Lead us right to the water. Will come back in spring when there is no snow.

mountain biking
16 days ago

Awesome January MTB. Dry, sunny, and not overcrowded. Easy access. Def will be back

hiking
16 days ago

It is beautiful for sure for a bit too crowded for my liking.

Loved this trail. We hiked it in June 2018. the waterfall near boulder cave is great and so much fun to climb around.

17 days ago

Super busy trail, nonetheless it is very beautiful at this time of the year. The final stretch to the falls is very icy making it difficult to go all the way down without spikes.
The snow is very compact, there is no need for snowshoes.
Parking spot can be very difficult to get if you don’t arrive in the morning.

beautiful day to hike to the falls, compact snow and some icy areas, good to have micro spikes!

snowshoeing
17 days ago

Nice, easy loop to break in some new snowshoes. Fairly crowded and the messy parking situation notwithstanding, it's an ok way to enjoy some the snow and mountains.

camping
18 days ago

Hiked in on 12/26 to do a couple of days of snow camping. The area is stunning and quite snowy (note: be aware that the road leading
up to the trailhead is getting challenging for non 4x4s). The bridge over the creek is fine (having poles is a plus for this hike) and the lake frozen over. Baring Mountain looming high above the lake is a sight to see, complete with a crown of clouds.

I had to cut my camping short as my bivvy sack, pad, sleeping bag, wool blanket, and wool base and middle layers weren’t enough for the clear sky cold of the night. I went to bed at 7:30 or so and woke up at 9:20 realizing I was feeling areas of cold even through all of my layers. I elected to bail and hiked back through the forest in light snow following the partially filled tracks of previous hikers. I did get to see very fresh elk tracks - probably missed saying hello by a few minutes.

Walking back at night was a very intense and vibrant experience. I will say I did crazy ivans every few minutes to look for any night eyes. A little disappointed at not being able to stay the night but the overall experience was magical.

snowshoeing
18 days ago

Snow lake did not disappoint. I made it to the top of the lake and didn’t press my luck traversing down to the actual lake. Gorgeous scenery. Tons of snow. A bit wet. But nothing too bad!

Road was closed so it added a long boring walk on pavement to the hike but trail itself was still pretty crowded. The viewpoints along the way were beautiful and the waterfall was rushing!

hiking
19 days ago

Did the hike today but only made it about one third or half way due to rain and the trail being washed out a bit. With the rain we thought it was better to be safe so we turned back about halfway. We didn't use snow shoes but we used crampons. Snow shoes are not necessary due to compact snow but if you don't have crampons I would suggest snowshoes. We actually saw a group of 3 guys not dressed for the trail and one of them had on cowboy boots!! The views were beautiful. Next time we plan to get to Snow Lake!

hiking
19 days ago

Went up this morning with high hopes. Trailhead was a little hidden (it’s between the 2 upper parking lots at Alpental and requires a little climb up a snow bank from the snow plows). Brought spikes and snow shoes and used both. Some sections were a bit narrow for shoes though. Spikes would have sufficed for most of the way up. The trail was easy to follow and walk on with packed snow though some sections were soft and did some postholing in spikes.
Unfortunately, once the trail spilts and the switch backs starts, most of the trail was washed out but small slides and avalanches. Going the other direction towards the rim had the same result. I wasn’t comfortable blazing a new route on my own given the rainy weather and the threat of more slides. Disappointed I got as close as 3/4 mi from the lake but it was still a fun hike. Still clocked in 5 1/2 miles RT.
*I used GAIA to make sure I stayed on the trail in the washes out areas but it got a bit too deep for me and my dog.

hiking
20 days ago

Only went about one-third of the way because the family pooped out, but still beautiful and not too much traffic. We brought snowshoes but didn't need them because the snow was already hard-packed from other hikers.

We went on 12/27, once you turn onto the service road theres a few pot holes, we hit quite a bit of snow on the way up the road around 10 a.m. and some cars got stuck, one had to get towed out. The hike was gorgeous, there's some slushy snow on lake, we brought micro spikes but didn't need them. Very minimal elevation gain, but as it gets more icy would be good to have spikes and poles. Plan for extra time as it takes longer in the snow, esp. if you have to park a ways down due to road conditions. There is a bathroom at the trailhead and lots of shy camprobbers :)

hiking
21 days ago

Lots of snow, trail gets a little harder near the switch backs. Bring gloves and a beanie, and poles would help. waterproof gear. Trail is narrow, I wouldn’t wear snow shoes

hiking
21 days ago

I completed this hike in late October and it was beautiful! We started a little too late in the day and ended up being still on the trail at nightfall. It was a little chilly after dark but overall the temperatures were comfortable. It was a little too foggy to see the lake completely but the views were definitely still worth it. The trail gets narrow and rocky (and wet!) in several spots so I wouldn't recommend this hike for young children. The full loop is actually 7.2 miles. Great hike!

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