Bench and Snow Lake Trail
- 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.NOTE: Always check current trail conditions before heading out. Log footbridges frequently wash out during the winter or other conditions could be affecting the trail.
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.
The Snow Lake wilderness campsites are 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. Permits required for camping. Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.