Annette Lake Trail

Humpback Creek near the start of the Annette Lake trail.
Destinations

Sad to say, as far as area hikes go, I tend to replay my “greatest hits” list over and over. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1994 and only just got around to the Annette Lake Trail last weekend.

Humpback Creek near the start of the Annette Lake trail.
The view down Humpback Creek near the start of the Annette Lake trail.

Last Saturday I volunteered to help at the mile 10.4 aid station of the Cascade Super Series‘ Super Marathon. The Super Marathon is unique in that it is a Boston Marathon qualifier that passes through the Snoqualmie Tunnel, and trends downhill on the Iron Horse/John Wayne Trail all the way to Rattlesnake Lake. The sanctioned course is a perfect setup for personal best times.

Humpback Creek near the start of the Annette Lake trail.
The view up Humpback Creek near the start of the Annette Lake trail.

Getting to the aid station involved a bit of pre-planning. The options were to come in via the Tunnel (via bike or run), or hike in via the Annette Lake trail. I’ve done the Tunnel numerous times, so opted for Annette Lake which was new territory. The Iron Horse/John Wayne Trail is a popular gravel cycling destination; folks ride it using gravel bikes and mountain bikes. In 2017 Ellen Lavoie successfully completed an “only known time” of the entire trail on foot from the Idaho border to Rattlesnake Lake.

Xerophyllum tenax, a member of the the corn lily family, is known by several common names, including bear grass, squaw grass, soap grass, quip-quip, and Indian basket grass.
Xerophyllum tenax, a member of the the corn lily family, is known by several common names, including bear grass, squaw grass, soap grass, quip-quip, and Indian basket grass.

The trails on the north side of I-90 are a bigger draw for me because they have significant climbing in relatively short distances: Mailbox Peak, Mt. Si, and Granite Mountain are my most frequent go-to day hikes.

A tributary of Humpback Creek on the upper part of the trail.
A tributary of Humpback Creek on the upper part of the trail.

As hikes along the I-90 corridor go, the Annette Lake trail is relatively mellow and climbs a mere ~1,800′ in 3 miles. In contrast, the Mt. Si trail climbs ~3,150′ in about 4 miles.

Despite gloomy, cool, drippy “Juneuary” weather (also known as the “June-gloom“) the trail was crowded.

Although the hiking objective for this trail is Annette Lake, at this point in the season the waterfalls steal the show.

Below the Iron Horse Trail, the terrain is relatively easy; above the Iron Horse the terrain is a bit more technical with lots of roots and rocks. I haven’t heard much about Annette Lake as a trail running objective, but the Strava segment from the trailhead to the Iron Horse Trail includes a notable list of local athletes:

Washington Trails Association: Check current trip reports and conditions

A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park in the parking lot.

As with all traiheads in the Northwest, especially those near populated areas, take care not to leave valuables in your vehicle.

"June-uary" weather in the Cascades.
“June-uary” weather in the Cascades.
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