Hiking the PNW: Rattlesnake Lake

Rattlesnake Lake

With a sapphire blue lake, a grandiose rocky ridge and beautiful hiking trails, Rattlesnake Lake is an extremely popular recreational location in Washington. It’s located just off of I-90 at Exit 32. Despite its name, it does not harbor any rattlesnakes. There are a great many things to do at the park. It’s an exceptional place to swim, kayak, hike, bike and more. Today, I will focus on the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail. It’s a fairly short hike with an amazing view at the end, overlooking the lake and greater North Bend area.

The main trailhead itself is located fairly close to the main parking lot, alongside a nice beach and picnic area to relax before or after your hike. I should mention here, if you plan on going to Rattlesnake Lake, I recommend you go early in the morning and on a weekday. Otherwise, the park fills up very fast. Once you get on the trail, it’s beautiful. Above you tower Douglas fir trees, while wildflowers peek out at you from the edges of the trail. Every now and then you may catch a slight glance at the stunning horizon or the calm lake below you.

While the actual hike up the ledge is only two miles, it is an exhaustively steep hike. I highly recommend bringing your best hiking shoes, as the trail can get rocky. Despite this, I still cannot quite describe here how beautiful this forest can be. The way the light filters through the trees as the browns and greens complement each other, flowing down the steep slopes of the mountain is something to behold. Although you could reach the crest and back in probably less than an hour and half, it’s too pretty and refreshing to try and rush this hike.

Although the journey can be arduous, the view at the peak is well worth it. Other hikers stand atop the ridge, admiring the heights. My photos here can only tell half the story, for half the grandeur comes from the dramatic scale of the ledge itself. As you gaze over the rocks, the blue mountains across the horizon beckon your gaze, all while the clear lake shines below. Lying in-between are luscious forests and a clear, glowing sky.

The journey down is much easier than the adventure up, of course. And waiting at the bottom for you is the entirety of the park, and a wonderful lake to sit beside and cool off before you make your way home. If you are in the mood for gorgeous views, relaxing lakesides and a short but tough hike, be sure to consider Rattlesnake Lake.