At times Rachel Lake looks like Madison Beach Park on a 90-degree day, but after Labor Day the crowds thin, leaving you free reign over the blueberry bushes. Follow the trail as it cuts through forest and valley, running parallel with its mate—the murmuring Box Canyon Creek. A little over three miles in, the path begins a steep ascent over roots, rocks, and fallen trees, then levels out a mile later in vast heather glades with a view of Rachel, a grande dame of a lake. Side trails snake toward a number of smaller alpine pools, but to the right is the narrow Rampart Ridge trail, an uphill grunt scaling Alta Mountain. Exhausted? Yes. Is this final push worth it? Oh yes. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the aforementioned lakes, winking like mirrors in the sun, and an eyeful of mountain giants Rainier, Adams, and Stuart.
INSIDER TIP Bring the deet—the bugs can get nasty.
Distance from ­Downtown 60 miles
Permits and Passes None
Map Green Trails no. 207 ­Snoqualmie Pass

8-11 Miles