History of the Trails in the Snoqualmie Pass Area


Snow Lake/ Rock Creek:

This trail was built in 1909-10 by H.A. Noble, probably to get to the private property up there, or in an attempt at irrigating the east slopes of the pass.  The plan was to build a drainage all the way down the valley and east over the pass.  You can still see a remnant of the drainage on the Pacific Crest Trail just north of the pass where it crosses the old logging road.  The trailhead was back at the pass, sort of across from where Snoqualmie Summit Ski Area is now. It has been long obliterated.  There was a cabin next to Snow Lake (part of the lake was actually privately owned for a long time!), the remnants of which were visible even back in the 1960's.

Around 1967, the subdivision started at Alpental, and a road was made up to present day lot 1.  The trailhead was moved to its present location, and a new starting section was made going uphill to meet the old trail a hundred feet up.  You can still find small sections of the old trail that was abandoned more than 30 years ago... you can see where the old trail branches right slightly uphill of where the new trail first turns left, and the section through the rockfall under the cliffs of Guye Peak is still in good shape, between what looks like a glacier moraine and Ober Strasse.

At some point recently, the long switchback above Source Lake collapsed at the switchback, and a new route was built that turns right instead of left, and switchback up the cliffs more directly.  The old route is now called "Source Lake overlook".

The trail from Snow Lake continues down Rock Creek, into the Middle Fork valley, as has been around since before 1920.  This was the official Cascade Crest Trail at one point, a designation shared with the Red Pass trail  (see history of the PCT).


Guye Peak / Cave Ridge / Snoqualmie Mtn

F.M. Guye and friends patented 12 mining claims around 1882 on the slopes of Guye Peak, now named after him, even though early geologists tried to call the mountain Slate Peak. He even built a cabin in 1883, visible from the Snow Lake trail as recently as the 1920's.  It was probably he who started the mining trail up the lower slopes of Cave Ridge, but the trail apparently stopped at the fork between the Snoqualmie and Guye trails at 4000', even back in the 1920's.  I don't know when they were continued, or when the trail up to the saddle from Commonwealth Creek was made. These have never been "official" trails, and don't exist on any map I've ever seen.


Commonwealth Creek / Red Pass / Goldmeyer

A prospector named Gingras filed a claim here in 1885, and built the first trail up this valley in 1890.   This trailhead was also where the old Snow Lake trailhead was, across from where Snoqualmie Summit is now.  You could still see the remains of a cabin (his?) as recently as the 1960's just across the creek, just inside the "good timber" past the area that was clearcut many years ago. A 250 foot tunnel was supposedly drilled around here somewhere, but nobody can remember where.

When the Alpental subdivision got built in 1967, the trailhead moved to just south of the creek at Alpental Rd.  Since the new PCT was built in 1978, the trail now starts at the horse parking lot.

Where the trail first meets the creek, you need to cross it.  The trail actually extends along the east side of the creek for a few more feet; who knows where it used to go. Just across the creek is where you can branch up to the Guye/Snoqualmie saddle. Shortly after a few more creek crossings, the trail meets up with the new PCT, and then keeps going up Red Mountain to Red Pass.  The mountaineers did some repair work on this trail in 1921.

The trail continued down Goat Creek towards the Middle Fork valley, to Goldmyer Hot Springs.  William Goldmyer Sr. started the resort here until 1913. Later, it was abandoned for a while, until hippies took it over in the 60's and the lodge burned down in 1969.  Then the owners came back, armed.  Now this property is taken care of by full time caretakers who spend 6 months at a time here, all alone except for visitors.  This trail to the hot springs has been around since before 1920, and was designated part of the Cascade Crest Trail in 1938 (see history of the PCT).  The upper part of the trail down to the Middle Fork (above the treeline) is still passable (although the top is really evil) but soon after you get into the trees, it is completely obliterated. Actually, BurntBoot Creek is now flowing over the spot where the trail met up with the Middle Fork trail, so it's impossible to find your way up this trail anymore.  That's what 25 years of dis-use will do.


Gold Creek

This trail was first built by prospectors around 1898.  It goes up the creek, (now with branch trails to Alaska Lake and Joe Lake), and sort of fizzles out. It used to climb the ridge between the 2 lakes, to a cabin.  Originally, a side trail went along the top of the ridge to Ptarmigan Park and the little pond, where there was another cabin.  A prospector trail reportedly wandered around Chikamin ridge (Chinook for "metal" or "money" since it's near Gold Creek). And finally, a side trail went up Kendall Peak to within 1000' of the summit, where there was another cabin.  Everything but the main trail was basically gone by the 1920's.  By 1971 even the main trail was very much in disrepair, and almost a bushwhack, until repaired and maintained by the Forest service.


Denny Creek

This trail ended at a cabin (Denny's?) just above Keekwulee Falls, until 1921 when the Mountaineers and the Forest Service extended it to Hemlock Pass. They planned to go all the way to Snow Lake by 1922, but only seemed to have made it to Melakwa Lake (Chinook for "mosquito"). They also planned to make shelters at Melakwa and Source Lakes in 1922, but didn't seem to get around to that either.  There is a shelter on Lower Tuscohatchie Lake, however.


Pratt River Trail

The Denny Creek trail continues past Melakwa Lake to Tuscohatchie Lakes, and down the Pratt River to the Middle Fork.  This part of the trail was probably made by prospectors around the turn of the century to access mining claims on Chair Peak (named in 1887 by prospector Harry Whitworth after its resemblance to an armchair).  Somewhere on a ridge east of Chair Peak was also dug a 300 foot horseshoe shaped tunnel, and another 50 foot tunnel.


Cascade Crest Trail / Pacific Crest Trail

In the late 1920's, the idea first came about to have a trail all the way from Canada to Mexico along the summit crest of the mountain ranges.  The first sections made were the John Muir trail in California, the Oregon Skyline Trail from Hood to Crater Lake, and the Cascade Crest Trail in Washington.  The latter was created by examining existing trails and connecting them between 1935 and 1938 in a big YMCA relay to link them together.  By the 1970's, trails were being made to cover most of the rest of the distance between Canada and Mexico, and instead of being thought of as 3 state trails, it was to be one big National Scenic Trail... called the Pacific Crest Trail.

The first southern route of the CCT followed trails probably made by the Mountaineers around 1919 to get to their lodge at Lodge Lake, and past that, followed their trail from the lodge towards Rockdale station.  

The first northern route of the CCT, in 1938, went up Commonwealth Creek to Red Pass, and down to Goldmeyer, and then east up the Middle Fork to Dutch Miller Gap, and then south to Waptus Lake.  By 1962, a guide book suggested getting to the Middle Fork via the Snow Lake trail, and down Rock creek, with the original Red Pass route as an alternative (since the trail just north of Red Pass is dangerous to travel on until the snow melts... in August). Then in the 70s, the Snow Lake route was thought of as the "new PCT route" and Red Pass was the "old CCT route".

Finally, this section of the PCT was redesigned and moved, to make it much more "horse-friendly", and a totally new trail was created by 1978 to Spectacle Lake, and then east to Waptus Lake to meet the old trail. This trail also goes up Commonwealth Basin, up to a ridge on Kendall Peak, and along the ridge around the head of Gold Creek to Spectacle Lake.  The most difficult part was blasting a trail through the "Kendall Katwalk", a steep rock cliff on the ridge between Kendall and Red Mtn.  Before it was completed, some people were probably going up Gold Creek to Ptarmigan Park, and getting up on the ridge next to Spectacle Lake from there.  Much of the trail between Spectacle Lake and Waptus Lake probably already existed.

This section of the PCT goes through the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, not protected until 1976. Standing at Snoqualmie Pass looking NorthEast, there isn't so much as a dirt road for almost 40 air miles... but if you follow the switchbacking trails as you weave around the mountains, you can walk more than 85 miles before reaching the next road... near Coles Corner, east of Stevens Pass.



USGS Snoqualmie Pass 7.5' 1989

USGS Snoqualmie Pass 15' 197?

USGS Snoqualmie Pass 1903

Mountaineer Annual - 1920, 1921, 1923, 1931, Mountaineers

Majors, Harry:  Exploring Washington, 1975, Rip Van Winkle Publishing Co.

Beckey, Fred: Cascade Alpine Guide Volume 1, 1973, Mountaineers

Marshall, Louise:  100 Hikes in Western Washington, 1966, Mountaineers (1st printing, and 4th printing corrected)

Spring, Ira & Manning, Harvey: 102 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes, 1971, Mountaineers

Spring, Vicky & Spring, Ira & Manning, Harvey: 100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes, 1985, Mountaineers

Clarke, Clinton: Natural History of the PCT System, 1938, PCT System Conference

Clarke, Clinton: The Pacific Crest Trailway, 1945, PCT System Conference

Wills, Robert: High Trails a Guide to the Cascade Crest Trail, 1962, UW Press

Schaffer, Jeff & Hartline, Bev & Fred: The Pacific Crest Trail Vol 2, 1974, Jeff Schafer & Bev & Fred Hartline

Northwest Underground Explorations: Discovering Washington's Historic Mines, 1997, Oso Publishing