NorthBendEscapes.com’s Rick Arons and Randy Fleming biked and hiked the Taylor River Snoqualmie Lake trail from the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trailhead to Snoqualmie Lake and back on June 2, 2019. The series of short videos below covers the highlights of the trip for anyone interested in trying it. While the highlights of the trip are Otter Falls and Snoqualmie Lake, there are four other major impressive waterfalls and countless smaller streams and falls along the way. This is a great season for this trip!
Elapsed time: 6 hours 15 min Total
Distance round trip: 20 miles Total
Elevation gain: 2300 feet total (1400 hiking, 900 biking)
Introduction and Start of Trip in North Bend
We met in North Bend and started driving towards the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. This video, taken while driving describes the overall plans for the trip.
Driving at the Start of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road
We discuss more specifics about the overall trip route: the parking, the biking, and the hiking. We’re headed to Snoqualmie Lake (elevation 3200) in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.
Arriving at the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Parking Lot
We discuss the mechanics of parking. The parking instructions are shown in the two images below. The video below the images discusses in more depth.
On our bikes getting to the Taylor River Snoqualmie Lake trailhead.
Mile 0.25-0.5. We start off on our bikes from the parking lot. This video taken while biking shows how to find the Taylor River Snoqualmie Lake trail. It’s a little confusing so watch carefully. Even though we say at the end of the video we’re not sure it’s the right road, it is.
On our bikes at Snoqualmie Lake Trailhead Sign next to second bridge over Taylor River.
Mile 1.0. We are a half mile up from where the road was blocked off from traffic. We have seen many hikers with dogs as this area is “doggie heaven” and has been featured in a dog magazine. The confusing part is the trailhead sign is not until this point. Once we cross the Taylor River the second time, the serious riding begins.
On our bikes at Martens Creek Falls
Mile 4.0. At Martens Creek Falls. We discuss the 3 miles and 600 feet elevation gain we just rode from the Taylor Creek Snoqualmie Lake trailhead. Nice waterfall with a couple of really good swimming pools for cooling off in the summer.
Private Swimming Pool above Martens Creek Bridge
Check out this beautiful private swimming pool above Martens Creek bridge.
Swimming Pool at Martens Creek Bridge
And here’s a video of the really nice pool just below the bridge.
On Our Bikes at Side Creek After Martens Creek
Mile 5.5. At the second major side creek crossing past Martens Creek. 1.5 miles and 0 elevation gain since Martens Creek. You need to carry/push the bikes over the rocks and through the water on these side creeks. This second side creek has an old culvert below the crossing spot. When you get here, you know that you’re close to the turnoff to Otter Falls. There has been little elevation gain the last 1.5 miles but plenty more rocks and a narrower trail so you’ll need to get off and walk the bikes a little more. Still much better than not having them though. The bike acts as support when crossing the creeks.
Hiking up the Side Trail to Otter Falls
Mile 6.0. No elevation gain and 0.5 mile distance since the last stop. We leave our bikes and start to hike up the short side trail to Otter Falls. There is a small sign for Otter Falls and a cairn here as well as a big mossy rock.
The Incredible Otter Falls
Miles 6.0 – 6.3. Side trip to Otter Falls – about 0.25 miles: We hiked 300 yards and 100 feet elevation gain from the main trail. You don’t want to miss Otter Falls – a 10 of 10 on the scenery score at this time of year (June 2nd). Once the snow has fully melted from the basin above, Otter Creek dries out completely and will not return to life until the winter rains begin the following fall. This is in direct contrast to the neighboring drainages of Anderson Creek and Big Creek, both of which flow all year. In low snow years, Otter Falls has been known to dry out entirely by the end of May when it usually is flowing at its peak.
Back on the bikes - Big Creek Falls
Mile 6.8. No elevation gain and 0.5 mile distance since leaving Otter Falls turnoff. Big Creek Falls has the most water volume of any falls we’ve seen on this trip. It is an outflow of Dream Lake above so it never runs out of water even in the dry season. You can hike up to Dream Lake but the trail peters out after a campground above Big Creek Falls and you’ll be bushwacking and climbing the streambed – not recommended.
Leaving the bikes at Snoqualmie Lake Trail Junction
Mile 7.8. 100 ft elevation gain and 1.0 miles distance from Big Creek Falls. This is mostly a bike through the woods with several small streambeds full of rocks where you have to get off the bike and walk. The trail is more overgrown than prior to Big Creek Falls. Unless you are planning on going to Snoqualmie Lake, there’s no point in doing this part of the trail.
Hiking up the Snoqualmie Lake Trail
Mile 9.8. 1000 feet elevation gain and 2 miles from where we left the bikes. It’s a little more than 2 miles up to the lake. Near the top of the trail is a 200 yard section where the trail follows/angles across a creek bed and you have to follow the cairns to know where to go. You will definitely feel it going up this grade and be glad you have plenty of water. At mile 8.1 you enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. About mile 8.6 you pass close to a large waterfall. The trail then crosses numerous small creeks before you come out to the open area pictured in this video.
Mile 10.3. 250 feet elevation gain 0.5 miles more to Snoqualmie Lake. We hiked past one more impressive falls just below the lake before reaching the lake. It’s 2.5 miles, not 2 so you can’t say the sign was wrong since it didn’t show tenths of a mile. Watch the two videos to see the beautiful Snoqualmie Lake. Unfortunately due to time constraints we had to turn around immediately but we recommend you spend at least an hour or two here.
Back down to the bikes
Mile 12.8. We quickly descended. In places where the trail was rocky and/or wet, it was slow going. Rick went on ahead to find the location with cell service. Randy was befriended half way down by a pro outdoorsperson (Kelsey Hoffman) who noticed him hiking with no gear and a cut on his leg. Once she found out he had a bike and two other friends on the trail, her concern went away. It’s a lot more fun talking with someone when your feet are hurting than to be thinking about them! By the way, Randy’s cut was due to falling off the bike into some Salmonberries just before the junction. The trail was particularly overgrown and narrow and the backpack was unevenly loaded with a heavy kryptonite cable which caused the accident at a sharp turn at slow speed.
Biking Back Down to the Car
Mile 20. The last 7 miles back to the car was a breeze despite the numerous rocky areas where we had to get off the bikes. We were using totally different muscles and the bike was available as a “hiking pole” support. Plus the route was all flat or downhill and we were familiar with it. Rick found cell service with T-mobile about half a mile past Martens Creek on the downhill side. This is the only place where you might have service the entire trip so don’t plan on it.
Taylor River Snoqualmie Lake Video Tour Wrapup
Back in our vehicle, we wrapup and summarize the trip. Until next time!
Rick and Randy
June 2, 2019
Taylor River and Snoqualmie Lake Trail Video Tour