Kendall Katwalk & Ridge Lake

Kendall Katwalk & Ridge Lake

Elev. Gain: 
2,450 ft.
High: 
5,475 ft.
Where:
North Bend, WA
Distance: 
14.50 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: 
Moderate
Rating: 
4
Well-pounded, varied trail with tons of views of nearby peaks and lakes
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Features

Overview

This well-pounded trail is full of big views and features an exciting, man-made traverse across a knife-edged ridge on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Barely one hour from Seattle, Snoqualmie Pass offers one of the most accessible drop-in points for the iconic PCT. The proximity to the big city means there's plenty of foot-traffic (and pack animals), but the views are spectacular and the destinations are many: alpine lakes, mountain summits, and overnight camping sites.

Begin on a gentle grade heading southeast into recovering forest with the hum of I-90 in your ears. The trail seems to struggle to make up its mind in this early section, and you'll encounter major directional changes at 0.6 mi (north), 1.3 mi (south), 1.5 mi (northeast), 2.6 mi (southeast), and 3.7 mi (east).

At 2.6 miles you'll hit the signed junction for the Commonwealth Basin. Head right and continue south on up the PCT, gaining elevation with more earnest as you carve a two-mile horseshoe-shaped route up and onto the flank of crumbling Kendall Mountain. (Experienced climbers may want to scramble to the top of Kendall Peak for brilliant views).

At 6.0 miles the trail makes a jog from the west side of Kendall Mountain to the east. This dramatic transition in the trail is known as Kendall Katwalk, a 100-yard traverse blasted out of the steep ridge by dynamite nearly 5,500' above sea level.

This is the final destination for most day-hikers. The views here are wonderful, and crossing Kendall Katwalk makes for a spectacular photograph. Don't worry though: this infamous section of the trail is nearly 3' wide and is solid as a, well, rock. Most hikers won't have any trouble crossing this section in the clear summer months.

For those looking for a longer trip or wanting to overnight, continue on the trail for another 1.5 miles, slowly dropping down into the basins that are home to Gravel, Alaska, and Ridge Lakes. You'll find established campsites at Ridge Lake.

Permits & Tips

Northwest Forest Pass required. Pit toilet available at trailhead. Exercise caution on stream crossings, especially in shoulder seasons of heavy flow or possible freezing temperatures. This hike was filmed in early November. 

>>Google Directions

How to get there

Head east on I-90 to exit 52, (West Summit, Snoqualmie Pass).
At the end of the ramp, turn left and go back under freeway.
After 100 yards, take a right onto a short paved road signed for the Pacific Crest Trail Parking. Park at the end of the road.