Nestled in the Cascade Mountains is a natural jewel that will take your breath away! If you're looking for an incredible summer hiking experience, look no further than my favorite spot, Gem Lake. This pristine lake is a popular hiking destination for locals as it shares a trailhead with Snow Lake and is easily accessible via I-90 from the Kirkland/Bellevue area. The hike to Gem Lake is approximately ten miles round trip and the best time to visit is in mid-late summer when the weather is warm.
The first part of the trail takes you through a dense forest, providing shade from the summer sun. After winding through the evergreens and up the switchbacks, the trail opens to stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. While there are some steep sections and rocky terrain, it’s not overly challenging. The picturesque Snow Lake can be seen as you crest the first ridge, an ideal photo opportunity! The path then leads you down and around Snow Lake, passing several small streams and waterfalls. You'll trek through a large boulder field before arriving at Gem Lake. The tranquil alpine lake sits in a basin surrounded by towering peaks and is the perfect place to rest and enjoy the views. There’s something about the peacefulness and serenity of Gem Lake that truly makes for an unforgettable summer adventure.
My name is Rachel Lloyd, and I am a local licensed real estate broker and outdoor enthusiast who is on a mission to summit 52 hikes and sell 52 homes each year, one per week. And for each home I sell, I donate $52 to Washington Trails Association, in support of our aligned efforts to protect the place we call home, the Pacific Northwest. Check out pnw52.com to learn more!