Miles of riverside rambling, alpine wandering, a beautiful lonely lake, and dry side hiking, as well as all the planning and logistics that goes into a long-distance hike – this will satisfy your thru-hiking cravings.
Whichever way you decide to hike, you’ll want to have a car (or a pickup arranged) on the other end. Or you could consider doing a key swap.
From the parking area, equestrians, cyclists, and hikers cross the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and hike on the Middle Fork trail on the south side of the river. This option is more scenic than the road walk, though walking the road is about a mile and a quarter shorter.
After 8 miles of riverside walking, arrive at crossing of Burntboot Creek and Goldmyer Hot Springs (reservations required to visit). Past Goldmyer, the route climbs for 3.4 miles to Hardscrabble Horse Camp, crossing the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River on a high bridge. This camp is 7.7 miles from the trailhead; set up camp for the night unless you want to press on another 5+ miles to Pedro Camp. Also note bicycles are not allowed beyond this point; the trail goes into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness after crossing Hardscrabble Creek.
From Hardscrabble, the trail begins to climb gently through the Middle Fork Valley, winding through forests and traversing open avalanche slopes with wildflowers or wading through deep bracken fern, depending on the season. You'll enjoy beautiful views of rockslides, waterfalls and jagged central Cascades peaks.
The avalanche slopes provide excellent views of Burntboot Peak, Overcoat Peak and Iron Cap Mountain. A short, steep stretch of trail takes you into to the upper valley where the forest thins to park-like stands with many large open areas and lots of huckleberries in August and September.
13 miles in, you'll cross a steel bridge over the Middle Fork at Pedro Camp. Here, Reflections of Bear’s Breast and Summit Chief Mountains grace a quiet pool of the Middle Fork River. Pedro Camp is a lovely place to stop for the night or to use as a basecamp. Or you can press on; there are lots of nice camping options in this section. Past it, it’s a steep 0.8 miles to the junction with Williams Lake. This is a worthy side trip if you have the extra time (and you can camp here, too). Continue on through Dutch Miller Gap to Lake Ivanhoe. Camping at Ivanhoe (near the high point of your hike) is definitely worth it, just be sure to find a spot that won’t be impacted by your stay.
It’s all downhill from here. Day three, head 3.4 miles and 1600 feet of elevation downhill to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Continue a further mile to the junction with Trail 1310, and make a left. You’ll traverse along the north side of Waptus Lake, staying on Trail 1310.
From the east end of the lake, it’s another 9 miles down to the trailhead at Salmon La Sac. Whether you want to pack it all into one day, or break it up into two days and camp along the Waptus River trail is your choice.