• Mount Rainier peeks through clouds, viewed across subalpine wildflowers and glacial moraine.

    Mount Rainier

    National Park Washington

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Bench and Snow Lake Trail

A map of the Bench and Snow Lakes Trail route from Stevens Canyon.
A map of the Bench and Snow Lakes Trail route from Stevens Canyon. Use of a topographic map of the area is recommended.
 

Trail Description:


Distance, round-trip:

2.5 miles

Elevation gain:

700 feet

Hiking time, round-trip:

2 hours

Wilderness camps:

Snow Lake

Bench Lake is so named because the flat area around the lake is called "The Bench." Snow Lake may have been named because the cirque in which it lies is filled by icy meltwater from the snowfields of the Tatoosh Range or because snow often rings the lake until late summer.

The trailhead is located one and a half miles east of the Reflection Lakes parking area on the south side of the road.

The trail is a succession of gradual ups and downs as it crosses a series of low ridges. The path first reaches Bench Lake after .75 mile, then continues another .5 mile to Snow Lake. Most years these lakes do not melt out until late July and the trail can be muddy until then.


Along the Trail:


In mid-summer, this area explodes with a variety of wildflowers and an abundance of bear grass. In the fall, mountain ash and huckleberries color the scene. Quite visible is a silver forest of trees which remain from a past fire. Expect good views of Mount Rainier on clear days. There is always a chance of seeing black bears as well.


Backpacking:


The Snow Lake Camp is often late melting out and may be snow-covered until July. Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from wilderness information centers, ranger stations, and visitor centers. Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.

Did You Know?

Northwest face of Mount Rainier and Emmons Glacier as seen from Sunrise.

Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states at 35 square miles of snow and ice with Emmons Glacier being the largest by surface area with 4.3 square miles of ice. The Emmons is best viewed from Sunrise on the NE side of the mountain.