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Pratt Lake Basin

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The path to Pratt Lake was once a braided super highway, at times more than 10 feet wide. Hardly the stuff of wilderness. But Washington Trails Association (WTA) volunteers stepped in and rebuilt the trail. Not only did they rebuild the tread to channel all hikers onto the proper path, they decommissioned all the unauthorized secondary trails, creating a new single track worthy of a pristine wild area. Hikers can now stroll easily up this picturesque trail to the pretty Pratt Lake basin.

The first mile of trail is busy. You're sharing this section with crowds headed for Granite Mountain. But don't worry: at the 1-mile mark most of your fellow hikers will peel off to the right as you push on straight ahead to Pratt Lake.

At around 3 miles out you'll find a fine viewpoint at 3400 feet. Pause to take pictures of the Snoqualmie Valley and the peaks above the Ollalie, Talapus, and Pratt Lake basins. Just beyond you'll enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and then you'll encounter a side trail at 3.8 miles leading down to forest-rimmed Talapus Lake.

A scant 0.25 mile past this junction you'll reach a low saddle (elev. 4100 feet) separating the higher Pratt Lake basin from the Talapus and Olallie basins. This is a great place to stop for a rest and, in late August (most years), to harvest the abundant huckleberries. Turn around here unless you really need to reach the lake.
Driving Directions:

From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 47 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek). Turn north over the freeway, turn left at the T, and drive to the nearby Pratt Lake-Granite Mountain parking area.

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 202 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Pratt Lake Basin — Mar 12, 2014 — kcheeney
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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The day was beautiful and clear but snow was a little too plentiful for easy hiking. We encountered ...
The day was beautiful and clear but snow was a little too plentiful for easy hiking. We encountered packed snow for the first few miles, then would have needed snow shoes to go farther so turned back.
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Pratt Lake Basin — Feb 17, 2014 — chelsearose
Day hike
Issues: Washouts | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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The drive up from Seattle was heavy rain turning to slush and then snow. The freeway off-ramp is pl...
The drive up from Seattle was heavy rain turning to slush and then snow. The freeway off-ramp is plowed, but not the rest of the roadway, so we parked at the west-bound on-ramp and hiked to the trailhead. About 12" of heavy snow on the road there, but once we hit the forest it was very slushy and wet for the first 1/2 mile.

We didn't make it far- maybe about 2 miles from the trailhead, and ran out of time. Beautiful and quiet, we were forging the trail for most of it. The snow ran about 6" deep on the trail and was much deeper at the one location where the trail broke into a clearing. Passable with good waterproof boots and poles- much more snowfall and you might want snowshoes- especially if you go farther up the trail than we did.

It was really great to watch the snow come down through the trees and also watch the tops of the magnificent tall trees sway in the wind- they were really whipping at some locations!
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Pratt Lake Basin — Feb 02, 2014 — HesperosFlown
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Past the junction with the Granite Mountain trail, recent snowfall has left every twig down to the g...
Past the junction with the Granite Mountain trail, recent snowfall has left every twig down to the ground clothed in white. Compact snow begins within a quarter mile of the trailhead and increases in depth with the ascent. However, up to the Lake Olallie overlook, the repeated shuffling of snowshoes has groomed the snow into a firm, smooth track that is easily trodden by others with nothing more than microspikes. It appears that most recent hikers have not ventured beyond the overlook, for the snow becomes deeper and much less stable thereafter and, without snowshoes, one begins to posthole up to the shins and knees.

No need to venture beyond the overlook. The trail is lost in deepening drifts in the boulderfield at the bottom of the Lake Pratt Saddle where the lake basin begins to flatten. There, divergent sets of footprints all end abruptly, testament to the futility of earlier searches for the trail.
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Pratt Lake Basin — Jan 05, 2014 — Just a hiker
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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I had not made it out to the mountains in a while and the forecast made it unthinkable to not make i...
I had not made it out to the mountains in a while and the forecast made it unthinkable to not make it out while the sun was shinning.

I chose the Pratt Lake trail for its easy trailhead access and figured it would be just enough snow to make it scenic.

The parking lot was glazed and slippery and there were probably about 10-15 cars. Booted up and headed out. The temperatures were probably in the high 20's or just below freezing. Hat and gloves to start off but the hat did some off but not the gloves.

I usually do Granite Mt so going straight at the junction took some willpower. But I also knew I was not in the mood for a 3,800 foot climb with winds predicted up high.

Not much snow with just a dusting. Moving higher it was obviously that there had been a freeze/thaw or freezing rain/sleet. There were small icy shards that had fallen from the trees covering the trail. The first creek crossing after the junction was definitely a challenge - a choice between a narrow snowy log or ice encrusted rocks in the creek. I opted for rocks. Oh, I did not put on traction devices until I turned around for the trip down.

More icy shards and then suddenly it was a winter wonderland with soft snow covering the shrubs and brush. Still there was not a lot of snow and hikers and one or two snowshoe tracks had packed it down. Passed the Talapus - Pratt junction and headed toward Pratt but realized I was not going to get there but knew of the clearing with a view down to Ollalie Lake and across to Mt Rainier. That spot did not disappoint - it was sunny and there was a dry rock to perch on and eat lunch.

I donned the traction and headed back down. Tracking software on my phone indicated 3.9 miles. The view point is hard to miss as there are no other openings.

Great day for wandering the snowy trails. More snow would be nice so that I can turn the next report into a cross-country ski report.
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Pratt Lake Basin — Dec 29, 2013 — Bigbusch
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Clear and no snow at all for the first few miles, times of snow on the descent down to the lake. Cra...
Clear and no snow at all for the first few miles, times of snow on the descent down to the lake. Crampons or yak tracks were necessary, snowshoes would have been helpful.
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FallPrattLake.jpg
Pratt Lake. Photo by Captain Crush.
WTA worked here!
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Location
Pratt Lake (#1007)
Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain 2300 ft
Highest Point 4100 ft
Features
Lakes
Waterfalls
Old growth
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Ridges/passes
Established campsites
User info
Dogs allowed on leash
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
100 Hikes in Alpine Lakes, #86 (Ira Spring, Harvey Manning, Vicki Spring)
Green Trails Bandera No. 206 and Snoqualmie Pass No. 207

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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47.3979 -121.48605
  • Trail Work 2013 Frontcountry
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