After a couple week hiatus, I was itching to get back up into the hills. Also, since my buddy and I are planning a backpacking trip next month, we decided that today would be a good day to load up some extra weight and train our legs/backs. We arrived at the Annette Lake trailhead 47 miles east of Seattle just after 7 AM. We were the first to arrive and spent a couple of minutes looking around. At the same location is the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail - a 0.6 mile loop trail that would be good for small kids. We ended up hitting the Annette Lake trail at about 7:15 AM.
The first section of the trail climbs about 500 feet over 0.8 miles. This section includes a well built footbridge crossing over Humpback Creek but not much else of note. We did see a crazy looking tree that was half bark and half bare and full of woodpecker holes. The trail section ends at an intersection with the Iron Horse trail. Just 1.6 miles east on the Iron Horse trail is the 2.3 mile long Snoqualmie Tunnel which was once used by the railroad but is today open to hikers and bikers who are willing to brave the dark (take adequate lighting). I may bring my bike back soon and ride through the darkness.
The 3.1 mile stretch from the Iron Horse Intersection up to the lake climbs from 2400 feet up to 3600 feet - pretty easy hiking by most standards. There is a little downhill and back up in the last mile. The trail was damp in places but for the most part in good shape. There were three downed trees. Two of these we went over but one we ended up crawling under. There are several avalanche chutes (but no snow) and talus fields where one can get pretty good views of the steep face of Humpback Mountain directly to the west across the river. There was just a very little bit of snow at the top of the trail just before the lake but it was nothing to worry about at all.
Once at the lake we explored the trail to the right. We had to cross an unstable and partially submerged footbridge and had a good laugh when my buddy almost accidentally went for a swim trying to cross. Poles are necessary to cross this bridge. We also saw some trout near the bridge. The water was very still/clear and was a beautiful bluish-green color. Several waterfalls were feeding into the lake from Silver Peak on the east side. On the south end of the lake below Abiel Peak were the last remnants of snow. It was trying to melt and as snow/ice blocks broke away they floated across the lake towards the falls leading to Humpback Creek (near the footbridge). We found a nice place to drop our packs and eat sandwiches and snacks. It was interesting to see V-shaped moss on the trees (wind-formed?). We also observed a woodpecker going to town on a nearby tree. All in all in was quiet and relaxing and we had the lake mostly to ourselves until shortly before leaving about an hour after we'd arrived.
Eventually we decided to head back down. On the way we were running low on water so we stopped at some falls to try out my new MSR ceramic filter. We also saw some big boulders delicately perched in an interesting position. I also enjoyed seeing the remnants of a tree that grew inside the remnants of a tree. We ended up arriving back at the cars at 12:45 PM. We'd hiked about 8 miles with a 1 hour break. Total time from car to car was 5 1/2 hours.