Backcountry Skiing at Source Lake, Alpental Lakes Wilderness
Source Lake, Snow Lake, and Pineapple Pass are popular Alpental backcountry skiing spots that are a quick drive from Seattle and an easy skin from your car. Source Lake is an accessible and popular area for easy backcountry skiing near Alpental Ski Resort. We skied at Source Lake this past weekend with the rest of Seattle (i.e. it was crowded).
Source Lake Trip Details
Ski tour: Source Lake, Alpental Lakes Wilderness, WA
Drive time (from Seattle): 1 hour
Skin time (to Source Lake): 45 minutes
Take I-90 out to Snoqualmie Pass, then from exit 52 take the Alpental Access Road to the last parking lot. From there, you’ll be able to ski to/from your car. We arrived at the parking lot fairly early, around 8:00 a.m. There were only a few cars there at that time, but when we returned, the lot was brimming full with more than just backcountry skiers.
From your car, take the obvious skin route starting on the plowed road (used by hikers, backcountry skiers, and sledders). The main skin track will follow the banks of the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River.
Be sure to check out Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes Washington for detailed trip information, including backcountry skiing around Alpental.
Our trip beta said to take the road to the end, cut left of the creek, and continue up to Source Lake basin. There was no obvious path left of the creek, so we continued on the only skin path moving forward (right of the creek).
We quickly learned that we were on someone’s skin track, not the main skin track. On this particular route, we had to take our skis off and haul them up an almost vertical “snow pitch” around a waterfall. Not ideal but adventurous.
Once we got high enough in the Source Lake basin, it was obvious that the main skin track runs climbers left of the creek and cuts off left before the end of the road.
This would have likely saved 30 minutes off our skinning time (we skied this path back to our car). This route travels through avalanche terrain so keep a lookout for slides (we saw a small one directly on the skin path) and be prepared for avalanche safety.
Skiing at Source Lake
Our original plan was to ski Pineapple Pass, but due to visibility issues, we couldn’t see an obvious path up there. Visibility was low and it wasn’t until we were up past Source Lake where we could see the actual peaks.
We opted to stay on the more mellow terrain in the Source Lake basin since this was our first time backcountry skiing in the Alpental area. There are steep chutes and cliffs to the south and large open glades to the north for prime backcountry skiing.
The snow was a little crusty higher up, but soft down lower. The lower terrain was fairly tracked out for backcountry skiing. However, despite not snowing for over a week, the snow was surprisingly good and there was still fresh powder to be had.
The open glades around Source Lake are an easy and fun area to lap. For skiing steeper terrain, try the chutes around Pineapple Pass (by the Tooth). Or if you’d prefer to beat the crowds, continue skinning up to Snow Lake.
Have you been skiing at Source Lake or Pineapple Pass before? What was your experience like? Please leave in the comments below!