Top 20 Washington State Trips

Rattlesnake Ridge and Lake

Rattlesnake Ridge and Lake

Rattlesnake Ridge and Lake is a short drive from Seattle, with a spectacular hike and beach.

Rattlesnake Lake and Ridge is 45 minutes from Seattle, up Interstate 90 near Exit 32.  Parking is free.

Hike 2-miles up to Rattlesnake Ridge for a 1,175 mile elevation gain with breathtaking views over the Snoqualmie Valley.

The hike starts at the northern end of Rattlesnake Lake, with a large lawned area popular for picnics and BBQ's.  On a sunny day, go kayaking or lake floating, or dangle a fishing line into the pristine waters stocked with trout.

There's also a 3/4 mile waterfront path along the south-eastern end of Rattlesnake Lake that leads to the Cedar River Watershed Education Center. This fascinating education center explains how Seattle gets 65% of its water from this area.

The nearest restaurants are a few minutes away at North Bend, including the famous Twede's Cafe from the Northern Exposure TV series, and North Bend Bar & Grill. The modern Huxdotter Coffee is perfect for your caffeine fix.

You can also combine a trip to Rattlesnake Ridge and Lake with two beautiful waterfalls in the local area; Snoqualmie Falls and Twins Falls.

10 best things to do at Rattlesnake Ridge and Lake

1. Hike 2-miles up to Rattlesnake Ridge with an 1,175 foot elevation gain.

The 2-mile hike up to Rattlesnake Ridge can be accessed at the northern end of the lake, near the lawned recreation area and parking lot. This moderate hike is one of the best mountain trails within close proximity to Seattle, but gets super busy on weekends, especially during warmer months. Always check in advance if the trail to Rattlesnake Ridge is open. Can you see people at the top of the rock face?

Rattlesnake LedgeRattlesnake Ledge

The elevation gain to Rattlesnake Ridge is 1,175 feet above the lake, with superb views of Mt Si, Rattlesnake Lake and the Snoqualmie Valley. There's lots of drop-offs and cliff edges along the way, so extreme caution should be exercised near the unfenced sheer ledge, as lives have been lost here. 

2. Enjoy wading or swimming in the crystal clear waters of Rattlesnake Lake.

The water temperature is usually around 62 to 68 degrees in summertime, but you can check the latest temperature here.  There are no lifeguards, so you're swimming at your own risk.  The beach on the eastern side of the lake is a gravel and sand mix.

3. Enjoy a BBQ or picnic on the shores of Rattlesnake Lake.

Rattlesnake Lake has a large lawned area, perfect for BBQs and picnics on lazy summer days, and a convenient restroom nearby. However, grills, picnic tables, and fresh water are not available at the lake, so bring everything with you. The whole area is owned and run by Seattle Public Utilities, who aim to keep it as pristine as possible.

4. Go kayaking or paddleboarding at Rattlesnake Lake.

In warmer months Rattlesnake Lake is popular for kayaking and paddleboarding, but there are no rentals at the lake.  There's also a boat ramp, but only self propelled and electric boat motors are allowed.  Always wear a lifejacket.

Take your kayak out on the shimmering waters of Rattlesnake Lake, with an 111-acre surface area to explore.

5. Go fishing for different species of trout.

Rattlesnake Lake has year-round fishing and is stocked with cutthroat trout and rainbow trout, but there are selective gear rules in effect for fisherman.

6. Learn about the ghost town of Moncton below Rattlesnake Lake.

It's fascinating to learn that the railroad township of Moncton used to sit at the site of Rattlesnake Lake. It had a population of around 200 people, and a school, saloon, restaurant and shops.

The town was flooded in the spring of 1915 when a new reservoir was built upstream behind a masonry dam, causing the water level of Rattlesnake Lake to rise by a foot each day. Within two months of the dam's construction, the town's homes and businesses were completely submerged.

7. Bike or walk along the southeastern shore of Rattlesnake Lake.

Take the beautiful 3/4 mile trail along the south-eastern edge of Rattlesnake Lake. The path starts at the beach area, and ends near the Cedar River Watershed Education Area.  There's no loop path around the whole of Rattlesnake Lake, because the northern shore is closed to pedestrians. 

The lakeside path has plenty of interpretive signs along the way, explaining the local history.

8. Walk past the enchanting waterfall along the lakeside trail at Rattlesnake Lake.

9. Visit the Cedar River Watershed Education Area.

The free Cedar River Watershed Education Center is nestled on the south-eastern banks of Rattlesnake Lake, in a secluded, forested setting.  This northwestern style lodge has a visitor center that explains how Seattle sources 65% of its water from the Cedar River Watershed.

It's free to visit The Education Center at Rattlesnake Lake.

A fascinating model demonstrates how water travels from the Cascade Mountains to the Cedar River Watershed and down to 1.4 million residents in the Seattle area. 

In 2000, the Cedar River Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan was implemented to protect 91,339 acres of the watershed and 83 fish and wildlife species.  Over 200-miles of old logging roads are being returned to a natural state to prevent sediment from entering the water system. Stream habitats are also being restored.

Step outside the Education Center to the patio with a telescope, where you can see hikers up on Rattlesnake Ridge.

10.  Check out the cool Rain Garden.

The first thing you notice when the approach the Education Center, is the steady beat of drums.  It's easy to mistake this for a live musical performance, but the sound is actually dripping water cascading from the roof, to pound the tops of the drums in the Rain Drum Court.

Know before you go.

  • Rattlesnake Ride & Lake parking lot:  Take Exit 32 on i90 East, turn right on 436th Avenue SE and travel 3-miles to the Rattlesnake Lake Parking Lot.
  • Parking:  free.
  • Camping: no.
  • Lifeguards: no.
  • Toilets: portable toilets.
  • Boats: self propelled and electric motor boats only.
  • Rattlesnake Ridge hike: check if the trail is open.
  • Cedar River Watershed Education Center: (free):  17905 Cedar Falls Rd SE, North Bend, WA 98045. Check hours here.

Visit 2 waterfalls near Rattlesnake Ridge and Lake.

Beautiful Snoqualmie Falls is 10 miles north, with a historic lodge and lovely restaurant and cafe for a meal, and the enchanting Twins Falls at Olallie State Park is 8 miles east, and is another popular waterfall hike near Seattle.

If you're a fan of the Northern Exposure TV show from the 1990's, visit the tiny town of Roslyn one hour of east of Rattlesnake Lake.  The lovely Swiftwater Cellars Winery is just nearby for wine tasting in an upscale northwestern lodge setting.

Review this attraction