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Summit Lake

A beautiful alpine lake hike with stupendous views of Mount Rainier on a clear day.

Hiking Moderate

9.4 km
473 m
473 m
2-3 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
1.7 km
Summit Lake Map

If you are looking for a scenic and rewarding hike that is not too strenuous, the Summit Lake Trail might be the perfect choice for you. This 9.2 km out-and-back trail takes you through a lush forest, a colorful meadow, and a stunning alpine lake with views of Mount Rainier and other peaks. The trail is suitable for hikers of all levels, and also offers plenty of camping spots along the way.


The trail starts from a rough road that requires a high-clearance vehicle to access. You will climb gradually through switchbacks and enter the Clearwater Wilderness at 1.1 km. At 1.6 km, you will reach a junction with the Carbon Trail that leads to Twin Lake, a small and unremarkable lake that you can skip if you want to save time. Continue on the main trail and enjoy the old-growth forest that surrounds you.

At 4 km, you will emerge from the trees and enter a beautiful meadow full of wildflowers in season. Here, you will see Summit Lake, a wide and clear lake that reflects Mount Rainier on calm days. You can explore the lake shore and find a spot to relax or picnic. If you want more views, you can follow the trail that loops around the lake and climbs up to Summit Lake Peak, where you will have a panoramic vista of the surrounding mountains.

Source: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest - Summit Lake Trail 1177. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mbs/recarea/?recid=18172. Hiking to Summit Lake | Clearwater Wilderness, Washington - 10Adventures. https://www.10adventures.com/hikes/mount-baker-snoqualmie-national-forest/summit-lake-trail/. Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest - Clearwater Wilderness. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mbs/recarea/?recid=79418. Winter Hikes: Hike Summit Lake in Clearwater Wilderness, Washington. https://backpackers.com/blog/winter-hikes-hike-summit-lake-in-clearwater-wilderness-washington/. Conversation with Bing Chat



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between June and October


  • Alpine
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Guidebooks in this area