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Lovely trail! It is appropriately labeled as " moderate" due to some steep, rocky areas with loose rocks. Hiking poles recommended. Saw some out-of-shape people struggling and not having a good time...The trail was well marked and not too heavy with traffic. Probably good for out of town guests who want a hike close to Seattle with a nice payoff at the end. Bring bug spray!

backpacking
4 days ago

Beautiful lake. Went up for one night. Very limit camp sites. Lots of people

Hiked in August and the trail was easy to navigate. Definitely needed bug spray. The views are outstanding and the water extremely refreshing to swim in. I agree with the other commenters about it getting packed with people, loose and rocky terrain, and overall good workout of a hike.

If you haven’t done the hike yet, it is certainly worth doing and seeing. I recommend early morning, weekday, in the summer to get the fullest experience.

Happy hiking!

hiking
8 days ago

Excellent hike had lots of fun

hiking
15 days ago

Hiked 7/28/18. Parking lot was 80% full at 8:30 AM. The trail was very busy to Snow Lake, but thinned out on the trail to Gem Lake. Beautiful view. Wish I had brought clothes to go swimming.

hiking
16 days ago

nice ,pretty much flat hike. be sure to hike to the far end of lake for more camping spots

hiking
17 days ago

would love to go backpacking to the other lakes, very gorgeous.

We did this as a day hike up to the Fourth of July pass campground and back. It's a steady and steep switchback climb once you separate from the Panther Creek trailhead. I would not recommend the trip as we did it. The views from the campground were not what we were expecting for the work we put in - beautiful, but mostly obscured by trees. I'd imagine if one was backpacking or doing the entire pass crossing all in one go, the views would be better.

Bring bug spray! There are a lot of open areas, so you'll be under the sun quite a bit. Trail is pretty rocky too. I got to the trailhead at 830am on a Sunday, and the lot was getting close to full.

Your relationship will be tested unless you bring bug spray

backpacking
23 days ago

Made the trip up to Gem Yesterday 7/25. Started at 7 am and the parking lot was 10 cars deep already. The ascent to snow lake is pretty easy. Some blasted switch backs towards the top. Snow lake was beautiful and understandable why it’s so popular for the ease to get there. Pushing past snow lake is when the challenge starts. You cross multiple tarns with large bolder fields resembling a tundra. My dog loved cooling off in each one we passed since it was nearing the mid 80’s as the morning crept on. Don’t forget to stop and take in the view of snow lake as you near closer to Gem. The last section to Gem lake should be proceeded with caution due to the loose boulder field you have to scramble. The lake was beautiful but the effort in my opinion wasn’t worth it. My dog and I went for a quick swim in the lake which I thought was the perfect temperature but we left within the hour since the biting flies and bees were so bad by the waters edge. The climb down became heavily packed with day hikers. We passed at least 20 groups of people. Please remember to pack out your trash... ( i found a brown bag on a cliff side filled with trash and had to tie it to the outside of my bag ) and don’t relieve yourself within a few hundred feet of the trail. Utterly disgusted at some individuals choices. If you’re looking for seclusion, look elsewhere in the alpine lake wilderness. Great hike with amazing views, but will definitely be avoiding this trail head from now on.

Nice place to hike !

Hiked this trail via Thunder Creek TH. Gorgeous and stately old growth forest welcomes you into the inclines about 2 miles in. Trail is steep but well kept, lightly traveled, and cool with shade from the forest. Peek a boo glimpses of the glacier and a small lake add to its appeal.

Not too bad of trail but if you come through the Panther Creek trail head, expect some brutal switchbacks to start. I also wouldn't choose this route if you have small children as some of the downhill switchbacks are tight and have steep drop offs.

Worth the effort for the stunning lake! Wonderful for water dogs, many places for them to cool off along the trail. Trail is dry and snow free now, wildflowers our but not too numerous. Steep and rocky the last 1/3 or so. Camp a night at the lake if you can. MOSQUITOS bring spray and stay in the breeze at the lake

Such a beautiful hike. I thought the waterfall was called Snowshoe Falls? The wildflowers will be in full bloom by 7/20. But there are other trials with much more wildflowers than this trial. Snowshoe Falls is great. Both Upper Melakwa and Melakwa Lake are picture perfect alpine lakes. The bugs just came out this week . . soooo it’s time to start bringing the bug spray. There is snow past Upper Melakwa to the pass.

beautiful lake! i even jumped in. I'd say its more like 9 miles. it took us 5 hours to hike there and back, not including the break at the lake. pretty gradual and lots of sun so wear sunscreen!

Awesome hike!! Sarts off moderate and increases in steepness throughout the hike towards Melakwa lake. I managed with regular running sneakers but it would have been more comfortable during the rocky portions with hiking shoes. Made it up to the lake in 3 hours with a lot of rest stops and took 2.5 hours to get back down. BRING A SWIMSUIT AND A TOWEL so you can take a quick dip!! We went into the water for literally 10 seconds because it was so cold but it was an amazing experience. We were lucky and didn't experience any mosquitos at the lake.

hiking
1 month ago

Pretty fun and unique but definitely not easy and more around 10.5 miles out and back. Watch out for snakes and snow at the top ;)

Great hike. Starts off moderate, crosses the creek which gets crowded, nice waterfall on the way, then up the switchbacks which are pretty tiring, to the lakes. Almost completely snow free now. Bugs were awful by the lakes, even with spray. Get there early to avoid crowds.

Not a bad trail but be ready for a climb. Also, both lakes were still frozen over, but melting. There was plenty of snow from snow lake, onwards. Better have a map and compass, but it’s worth the view!

One of the hardest hikes of I've been on. The snow makes the trail really hard to find, had to get out a compass and map to get redirected. the lake still has ice and snow on it on some areas. totally worth it, breath taking views.

hiking
1 month ago

Gorgeous veiws and crystal clear water everywhere, powered up it in about an hour and 15 minutes. I'll come back to backpack and see the rest of the slakes in the series!

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail for all ages and abilities, at the lake the trail splits off in many directions for you to either find your campsite or wander through someone else's if you just want to sit by the lake. there were a lot of people over the weekend, a few horseback riders, and many dogs off leash.

Still some snow at hemlock pass. Helpful to have gps.

Very nice trail!! I little bit longer than anticipated, but the lake on a nice day is crystal clear and refreshing. The “mosquito” lake left me with many swollen bites from bugs, so make sure to bring lots of spray. Other than that, there are very many beautiful stops on the way and a great view.

We backpacked 4th of July Pass via Thunder Creek Route. Mild, steady ascent through thick, green forest that initially follows a blue-green river. The trail begins switchbacking up to the pass with a few stream crossings. It gets increasingly more scenic the farther up you go, ending up with great views of surrounding peaks and glacier at the top. Makes for a great day hike or an easy but work-for-your-dinner overnight backpacking trip. Campsites were clean and so was the pit toilet. (A rarity for NPS!) The trail was well-tracked with only one downed tree. Would highly recommend!

Great hike. Did not cross at Denny as I didn’t trust my sr dog to not slip & hurt himself. The part to Denny Creek is very pretty & although you cross under I 90 it still feels remote

To begin, this trail is actually around 11 miles, not 8.1 so plan on a longer hike. My friends and I hiked this trail 6/18/18 and there was a significant amount of snow at the peak and the last 1/4th of the trail. I would highly recommend bringing ice spikes or trekking poles if you have them. Additionally, towards the last portion of the hike, the trail becomes obscured due to excessive snow and fallen trees. The only way my friends and I made it to the top was due to trail blazing while using a recorded version of the hike from this app. It definitely makes for an adventure! We started the trail at 8:00 AM and made it back down to the parking lot by 3:00 PM (we did stop a few times to take pictures and eat at the top). This probably had to be the most beautiful hike I have been on though to say the least. The lake is amazing, but to me it looks quite similar to Lake 22 or Heather Lake, which are much easier and shorter hikes. Enjoy!

I hiked this a couple of years ago in July. The hike to snow lake was on the low end of moderate but the continued 3 mike round trip to Gem Lake was more difficult. Quite the scramble but in the end worth the quite, pristine, and crystal clear water!

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