East Peak is a slightly longer, more challenging hike than the extremely popular route to Rattlesnake Ledge. Allow a little more time, and be sure to bring a map of the area!
As soon as you arrive in the parking lot you have a view of Rattlesnake Ledge's sheer rock face across Rattlesnake Lake. While it may seem insurmountably far away, a look at a trail map will reveal some well-engineered switchbacks -- courtesy of many WTA work parties -- that will get you to the ledges with less effort than you might expect.
The old trail to the ledge was in bad shape from heavy use and no maintenance, but WTA work parties helped create this wide avenue through second-growth forest to the rocky ledges. In addition to adding a half mile to the old trail, the steepness was lessened a bit.
From the parking lot, head to a gate on the southeast side of the lake and follow a short service road about a quarter-mile to the trailhead. There you will find porta-potties and a very informative kiosk with maps, trail information and history of the area. To the right is the well signed trailhead. Begin hiking here.
After about a hundred feet you will be met by a "greeter" boulder, the first of many of these mossy monsters you will encounter along the lower section of the trail. As you ascend the trail and gain elevation, there will be a few places where you can look down on Rattlesnake Lake and appreciate your progress. At 1.9 miles you will reach a signed junction; though it is not signed, Rattlesnake Ledge is just to the right, about a hundred yards away.
The ledge is a very exposed, large rock that has sheer cliffs, so it would be wise approach slowly if you are hiking with kids or dogs. Most days, the ledge can be quite crowded, but it does afford a nice view of the lake below, the Snoqualmie Valley (including equally popular Mount Si), and the forests bordering nearby I-90. Take a moment to enjoy these views before continuing on.
To reach East Peak, go back to the junction where the sign points out the trail to East Peak. It's another 2.4 miles away, but the grade is slightly less steep from here to there. The trail is quite wide, and progresses up an old logging road most of the way to East Peak, which is forested, but offers a nice view of Mount Rainier on clear days.
WTA Pro Tip: It's possible to continue through to Snoqualmie Park, 8.3 miles from Rattlesnake Ledge. But if you're just seeking a little more quiet and a slightly better view, you can also go a short way from the junction up to Middle Ledge and Upper Ledge which are usually much quieter and afford more sweeping views to the northwest, where you can look down on the crowds at Rattlesnake Ledge.
Hiking East Peak
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.4339, -121.7680 Open in Google Maps