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

    Mount Rainier

    National Park Washington

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  • Nisqually to Paradise delays and Kautz Creek area closure.

    Road construction from the Nisqually Entrance to Longmire. Expect a 30-minute delay, Monday through Friday. Beginning May 29 to mid-July, all services at the Kautz Creek parking and picnic area are closed through the week. Limited parking on Sat & Sun. More »

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    Be aware of hidden- and potentially fatal- hazards created by snow bridges and high streamflows on Mount Rainier. More »

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 beargrass. 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. Crosscountry camping opportunities exist in the Tatoosh Range for backpackers with knowledge of minimum impact techniques and seek a rugged camping experience. 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?

Tahoma Creek suspension bridge

The 93 mile Wonderland Trail encircles the mountain offering hikers commanding views of Mount Rainier blanketed by 25 icy glaciers. The trail leads through extensive subalpine meadows of wildflowers and lowland old growth forest. The Tahoma Creek suspension bridge is part of the Wonderland Trail.