From Kachess Dam Road, we found the trailhead by following small, yellow,...
Kachess Ridge Scramble
Kachess Ridge Scramble
There are many wonderful peaks to explore along the Snoqualmie corridor, but most of these summits are covered in snow until June or July. If you're willing to drive just a little farther east, the scramble up Kachess Ridge is a great early-season workout that melts out a good month before its western neighbors. Although the views are fairly pedestrian, it's a solid hike without crowds that'll get your heart pounding as you gain more than 1,000' each mile.
From the parking lot, follow the sign marked Trail No. 1212 & 1315 for 100 yards to another clearing that marks the actual trailhead on a large sign that reads Kachess Ridge Trail. Head left and immediate begin climbing. The early going angles northeast on a well-pounded trail, and at about a half-mile the vegetation thins and views open of neighboring Mount Baldy and Easton Ridge.
At 1.0 mile, the trail makes a hairpin turn to the left (south), and soon after you'll arrive at at an unsigned junction. It's here that you need to make a decision. Heading left is the steeper – but shorter – scramble route to the ridge beacon. Heading right is a more moderate route along Silver Creek that also leads to the beacon, although you'll tack on an extra mile en-route. If your legs have the strength, we recommend the scramble route to the left for better views. You can always descend via the more moderate route.
(Note: If you do decide to go right at this junction, follow the trail for about a mile alongside Silver Creek. At 1.9 miles, turn left and climb southwest up the ridge to the beacon).
After turning left, the trail gets rugged and primitive. Follow a faint boot path that climbs a punishing, no-nonsense minor ridge north and then west up to a high point on the south edge of Kachess Ridge. At 2.0 miles, you'll see the decaying beacon tower on a broad, cleared, section of the ridge. Although the beacon light is long gone, you can still imagine its usefulness alerting aircraft to the dangers beyond.
Further exploration of the ridge is possible, although the seldom-used trail quickly becomes difficult to navigate. Our recommendation is to rest up at the beacon and enjoy the views of Mount Baldy to the east, Mount Rainier and Lake Easton to the south, and the southern tip of Little Kachess Lake to the west.
Permits & Tips
Northwest Forest Pass required. No toilets. Very steep if you take the direct route (as we did in the video), so trekking poles can be helpful. Park carefully as not to block anyone in at the narrow parking area.
How to get there
Head east on I-90 to Exit 70. Turn left at the end of the ramp and cross over the freeway.
Turn left onto West Sparks Road. Drive for 0.6 miles and turn right onto Kachess Dam Road (signed).
Drive for 1.0 miles and turn right at the next junction onto an unmarked road (there may be a small sign to indicate the road leads to Kachess Ridge Trail).
Follow for 0.5 miles to the parking lot and trailhead (signs will say "Trail No. 1212 & 1315").
Note that Google doesn't register the final road on its directions.