Rock Creek Trail #1013.1

This less-traveled trail leads out to one of the largest waterfalls in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Total Distance: 12.5 miles
Total Ascent: 2800ft
Highest Point: 4100ft
Difficulty: Hard
Our Hiking Time: 6h 20m
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
To get there, take Exit 34 off I-90 and take a left on 468th Ave. Follow the road past the truck stop for about a half-mile until you reach SE Middle Fork Road, also known as Forest Road 56. Continue to follow the twists in the road until the pavement runs out. Continue on FR 56 for 12 miles, crossing the Taylor River. Once across, FR 56 veers to the right while the Taylor River Road continues another quarter mile to the Snoqualmie Lake Trailhead. Veer right and continue for about five miles to the Dingford Creek Trailhead. View Google Directions >>
From the Dingford Creek Trailhead, drop down and cross the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, before joining up with the Middle Fork Trail. The trail follows the river through second growth forests with only a few short bursts of elevation. Cross Wildcat Creek and eventually join up with the old railroad grade which that will carry you almost all the way to Rock Creek. The grade over the creek washed out long ago, forcing a short detour downstream to cross the creek and rejoin the grade on the other side. Here, after three and a half miles, find the signed junction to the Rock Creek Trail 1013.1.

The hike now begins in earnest. The trail is steep, rough, and rocky. It steadily climbs up the creek basin in a long series of tight switchbacks. As you gain elevation, you slowly enter old growth forest, complete with massive firs and hemlocks. Cross mossy talus fields while taking in views of Mt. Garfield’s sprawling granite faces. Hop across numerous streamlets that cut across your path as you continue your uphill battle into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and eventually to the impressive Rock Creek Falls. Watch as waters flow out of Snow Lake and cascade almost 1200ft down to the basin.

This is not an easy hike, though it is a great alternative approach to Snow Lake that exchanges the crowds for an impressive waterfall. But this route doesn’t get a lot of traffic, and it shows – the trail is rough, narrow, and overgrown. You’ll definitely want to bring the gaiters and some hiking poles on this one. However, if solitude is what you’re after, this trail comes highly recommended.


During the early 20th century, the Rock Creek Trail served as a link between the Snow Lake mining claims and the bustling timber industry of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley. As the mines closed and the timber interests moved on, hikers and backpackers took their place. The Rock Creek Trail was once part of the Cascade Crest Trail, a regional predecessor of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). When PCT trailblazers blasted a more efficient route into the side of a mountain – now known as Kendall Katwalk – the Rock Creek route was largely abandoned. Today, the trail has become a road less traveled, with relatively few visitors every year.
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