Bench and Snow Lakes hike is an easy and family-friendly hike with gradual ups and downs, that still has lots of great scenery that everyone can enjoy. This 2.5 mile hike offers beautiful lakes and an amazing view of Mount Rainier. The scenery along this trail changes depending on the season, so we recommend giving it a try in spring, summer and fall.
Though these lakes are located just off the road a little ways Southeast of Paradise, you’ll feel like you’re miles from everyone after dropping into the basin surrounding these lakes.
Featured Hike: Bench and Snow Lake
Distance: Approximately 2.5 Miles Round-Trip
Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Elevation Gain: Approximately 700 feet
Time: About 1 Hour Season: Mid-June to October
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.
You’ll start by heading south from the parking area and wind your way through the meadow area known as The Bench. As you approach Bench Lake, approximately ¾ of a mile into your hike, you’ll get a full view both across the lake and beyond. The opposite shore drops off to a hill with the road down below, leaving hikers at Bench Lake with gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier.
As you continue your hike you’ll follow the trail another ½ mile to reach Snow Lake. Snow Lake is formed by Unicorn Creek, which in turn is formed by ice and snowmelt from Unicorn Peak just above the lake. The lake sits surrounded on the East, South, and West by a tall ridge, blocking most sunlight and leaving the lake almost as cold as the ice and snow above it. You can usually find blocks of ice floating in the lake throughout the year, leaving no doubt as to how the lake earned its name.
The hike features rolling hills and a relatively short distance, so this Bench and Snow Lakes hike is recommended for families with children and those looking for a quick day hike and some amazing snapshots before leaving the park.
See all our suggested hikes.