Trail Description Distance, round-trip: 2.5 miles Elevation gain: 700 feet Hiking time, round-trip: 2 hours Wilderness camps: Snow Lake Bench Lake is so named because the flat area around the lake is called "The Bench." Snow Lake may have been named because the cirque in which it lies is filled by icy meltwater from the snowfields of the Tatoosh Range or because snow often rings the lake until late summer. The trail is a succession of gradual ups and downs as it crosses a series of low ridges. The path first reaches Bench Lake after .75 of a mile, then continues another .5 mile to Snow Lake. Most years these lakes do not melt out until late July and the trail can be muddy until then. Along the Trail In mid-summer, this area explodes with a variety of wildflowers and an abundance of beargrass.
In the fall, mountain ash and huckleberries color the scene. Quite visible is a silver forest of trees which remain from a past fire. Expect good views of Mount Rainier. There is always a chance of seeing black bears as well! Trailhead Location The trailhead is located one and a half miles east of the Reflection Lakes parking area on the south side of the road. Backpacking The Snow Lake Camp is often late in melting out and may be snow-covered until July. Crosscountry camping opportunities exist near Bench Lake and in the Tatoosh Range for backpackers who are knowledgeable of minimum impact techniques and seek a rugged camping experience. Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from Wilderness Information Centers, Ranger Stations, and Visitor Centers. Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.