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Chikamin Peak
Mountains & Rocks
Mountains & Rocks

Chikamin Peak

Chikamin Peak

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 47.47533°N / 121.31086°W

Object Title: Chikamin Peak

County: King/Kittitas

Activities: Mountaineering, Scrambling

Season: Summer, Fall

Elevation: 7000 ft / 2134 m


Page By: Snidely Whiplash

Created/Edited: Sep 9, 2003 / Jul 29, 2013

Object ID: 151849

Hits: 21301 

Page Score: 84.04%  - 19 Votes 

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From Summit of Chikamin
Lemah Mountain and Chikamin Lake from Chikamin Peak
Chikamin Peak
Chikamin and Lemah Peaks at dusk from Spectacle Lake
Chikamin Peak is the first Cascade mountain north of Mount Rainier to reach over 7000 feet in elevation. It is also the highest peak of what many regard as the Snoqualmie Pass Peaks (those peaks easily accessible from Snoqualmie Pass in a day). The view of Chikamin Peak is quite impressive while driving on I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass and looking north up Gold Creek Valley. From this vantage point, Chikamin appears as a rock horn sitting on top of a ridge whose southern face is a near-vertical wall. Appearances are deceiving. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses this face, which consists of numerous gullies which can be used to gain access to Chikamin's summit.

Accordingly, Chikamin Peak can be accessed from a variety of approaches. The shortest approach and the only route feasible as a day trip is by way of Mineral Creek Park (about 7 miles each way), although this is a very rough trail and will feel much longer. Chikamin can alternatively be reached via the PCT from Snoqualmie Pass and via the Cooper River trail from the east. Both of these latter approaches are about 14 miles each way, however, and are impractical as a day trip.

This will be some of the finest country you will ever encounter. Chikamin is in the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful lakes and rugged peaks anywhere in the Northwest. This mountain, whether done as an overnighter, or in a day, is a real gem. From its summit, you will have great views of Thompson, Lemah, Hinman, Daniel, and other great peaks of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area.

Getting There: Mineral Creek Park

Chikamin Pass on the PCT
At Chikamin Pass with Hibox (left) and Alta (right) Mountains in the background
Chikamin Pass from Upper Park Lake
Chikamin Pass from Upper Park Lake
Chikamin Lake
Traversing to the north of Chikamin, looking down on Chikamin Lake.
The Four Brothers
The Four Brothers above Glacier Lake. Be sure to hit Chikamin Ridge to the North of this formation.
Drive I-90 to Exit 80 (Salmon La Sac exit). Take a left off of the ramp and head through the towns of Roslyn and Ronald. After driving 15 miles, take a left from the Cle Elum River Road onto the Cooper River road #46 and drive 4.7 miles to the Cooper River Junction. Turn right onto the Cooper Lake Road #4616. At Cooper Lake, keep left at Road #4600 and climb over Cooper Pass. At about 11 miles from the Cle Elum River Road, find the trailhead, elevation 2400 feet.

Hike good trail at first, making a difficult stream crossing in about 2 miles. Once past the creek crossing, the trail becomes rocky and rough, and you will never really be able to see your boots due to all of the thick undergrowth which surrounds both sides of the trail. At 4 miles, finally break into forest and leave the rough trail behind. At 5 miles, reach Upper Park Lake, elevation 4700 feet.

From Upper Park Lake, continue on the Mineral Creek Park trail to a junction with the PCT in about 1/2 mile. Turn left (south) at the junction, and reach Chikamin Pass in another 1/2 mile.

From this point, two options are possible. Just about 1/4 mile before reaching Chikamin Pass, you will pass an unmarked but very well defined trail heading off to your right. If you follow this trail, it will take you cross-country to Glacier Lake, one of the truly spectacular settings in all of the Cascades. Unfortunately, you will also be losing about 600 feet in the process. The view of Chikamin from Glacier Lake is amazing. Hike along the right side (due to the cliffs of Chikamin Ridge, it will be impossible to hike up the left side) of the lake up a draw to the top of the cliffs surrounding Glacier Lake. At this point, it is imperative to turn left (west) over broken talus and slabs and traverse to the top of Chikamin Ridge. If you make the mistake of continuing up the draw, you will be prevented from reaching Chikamin by a huge cliff.

Once on top of Chikamin Ridge, it is an easy Class 2 scramble up a broad gully to the summit horn, where a narrower gully and a short Class 3 scramble will take you to the summit.

If you choose not to go to Glacier Lake, you can take the PCT south from Chikamin Pass about 1/3 mile, where very steep grassy slopes will eventually lead you to any number of gully systems that will reach the top of Chikamin Ridge. Be sure to go at least 1/3 mile south of the pass, as if you ascend Chikamin Ridge near Chikamin Pass, you will be doing so in the middle of the Four Brothers, four cliffy points which will present very difficult (and technical) obstacles on reaching Chikamin Peak.

Difficulty: Class 2-3. Distance: 14 miles. Elevation Gain: About 5800 feet via Glacier Lake, 4600 feet via Chikamin Pass and the PCT.

Getting There: From Snoqualmie Pass

Chikamin from near Chikamin Ridge
Chikamin from the PCT
Chikamin from Chikamin Pass
Chikamin from the PCT at Chikamin Pass
From Snoqualmie Pass, climbing Chikamin Peak via the PCT in a day is not feasible for mere mortals. Drive I-90 52 miles east of Seattle, exiting at Exit 52 (Snoqualmie Summit). Take a left at the ramp and go under the freeway, finding the PCT access road almost immediatley after passing under I-90. Park at the PCT trailhead, elevation 3000 feet.

Hike the PCT 5.5 miles to the Kendall Katwalk and beyond. At around 9 miles, you will need to lose 600 feet near Joe Lake, regaining those feet under Huckleberry Mountain. Pass under Huckleberry Mountain as the trail levels off at the Huckleberry-Chikamin Saddle (10.25 miles from Snoqualmie Pass).  At 13.5 miles from Snoqualmie Pass and 1/2 mile before Chikamin Pass, find the grassy slopes and gullies that one can access to the summit ridge, and complete the climb as described above.

Distance: 28 miles round trip: Difficulty: Class 2-3. Elevation Gain: Over 5000 feet with lots of ups and downs.

Getting There: Cooper River Trail

Chikamin Ridge from Chikamin Peak
Looking down Chikamin Ridge from near the summit
Chikamin Ridge
Chikamin from the top of Chikamin Ridge
Drive I-90 to Exit 80 (Salmon La Sac exit). Take a left off of the ramp and head through the towns of Roslyn and Ronald. After driving 15 miles, take a left from the Cle Elum River Road onto the Cooper River road #46 and drive 4.7 miles to the Cooper River Junction. Turn right onto the Cooper Lake Road #4616. Turn left onto Road #113 a fnal mile to the trailhead, elevation 2800 feet.

Hike the Cooper River trail a flat five miles to Pete Lake. From Pete Lake, continue another two miles, crossing two creeks. Beyond these creeks, join the PCT. Continue south on the PCT for two miles, finding the steep access trail to Spectacle Lake. While only 1/2 mile in length, this trail is mighty steep, gaining access to the outlet of Spectacle Lake. Continue along the very difficult southwest (left) shore of Spectacle Lake, reaching a stream going into Spectacle Lake. This creek is coming from Glacier Lake. Follow this creek uphill through not-too-difficult open forest to reach Glacier Lake (no established trail). Ascend Chikamin via Chikamin Ridge as described above.

Distance: 24 miles round trip. Difficulty: Class 2-3. Elevation Gain: 4200 feet.

When to Climb

Owing to the length of the approach, a day climb is only feasible from early to mid-July through late October. A strong snowshoeing party with good navigational skills could conceivably make the climb in winter, although 26 miles of deep snow on slide-prone slopes are probably prohibitive.

Red Tape and Camping

Mt. Thompson and Huckleberry
Mt. Thompson (left) and Huckleberry Mountain (right) from Chikamin Ridge.
Spectacle and Glacier Lakes
Glacier (nearest) and Spectacle Lakes from Chikamin. Three Queens in background.
Chikamin Peak lies within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Self-service permits are required and available at all trailheads. Northwest Trail Parking Pass ($5/daily, $30/year) is required to park at any of the trailheads. You can also obtain an interagency pass which is good at all Forest Service trailheads and US National Parks ($80/year).

Any approach on Chikamin Peak offers amazing camping possibilites. From Mineral Creek Park, camping is possible at Upper Park Lakes. From the PCT, camping is available at Ridge Lake. From Cooper River, camping is fantastic and spectacular at the aptly named Spectacle Lake. No permits other than the Wilderness permit are required to camp. Be aware that, due to the preponderance of lakes and standing water, this area is renowned for mosquitos. Bring a tent and lots and lots of DEET. Don't rely on a tarp on this one. You'll be eaten alive, especially near at the stream crossings after Pete Lake.

External Links

Lemah Mountain
Lemah Mountain from Spectacle Lake
Michael in the  move  the...
Final summit scramble. Photo courtesy tooloosealpinist
The closest year-round Forest Service ranger station is in Cle Elum, about 30 miles from Snoqualmie Pass. Contact information:

Cle Elum Ranger District
West 2nd Street
Cle Elum, WA 98922
(509) 674-4411

Snow conditions are available from the Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Areas (of which Alpental is one) at the following website:
Summit at Snoqualmie Snow Conditions

Also, webcams are available from the Washington State Department of Transportation at:
Snoqualmie Pass Web Cam

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
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marionthegoatUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

While on summit in 1990, I found a triangular tablet-like slab of stone about 11 inches on a side. It is inscribed with the letters U.S.G.S and 4 names. It was pretty old and weathered, but still readable. It was just lying among the other shattered rocks on the summit. Hopefully, no one has kicked it off the summit or used it to enlarge the cairn.

Perhaps this is the 'evidence of a USGS ascent prior to 1902' that Becky refers to.

I snapped a photo of it, I'll have to scan and post it when I get a chance to dig it out.
Posted Apr 30, 2005 11:28 am
dludersUntitled Comment


Voted 8/10

The author can add the following TopoZone coordinates for Chikamin Peak:

Latitude: 48.4750 degrees N.

Longitude: -121.3125 degrees W. (note the minus sign).
Posted May 29, 2005 3:27 pm
normanclydeUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

Climbers with interest in Northwest history may want to take a side trip southerly from the Chikamin summit. At the saddle between Chikamin Peak and the Four Brothers, a large boulder is faintly inscribed with the words "R. Denny/L. Lindsley/USA/1899". The two persons named are Rolland Herschel Denny and Lawrence Denny Lindsley. Both were members of the Denny family who in 1899 were working on the Esther Mine, owned by David Denny, in 1899. The Esther Mine was (is) located in Ptarmigan Park, an alpine meadow at the head of Gold Creek, a short distance beneath where the PCT crosses Chikamin Peak today.

Lindsley, who would have been 21 years old in 1899, went on to be a successful wilderness and landscape photographer. His photographic negatives reside at the University of Washington Special Collections, where as of late 2005 they are being catalogued. Negative #3249, dated 1902, shows the summit cairn on Chikamin. The USGS rock, which is just as marionthegoat describes, is clearly visible. A similar sized rock can be seen with Lindsley's name inscribed on it. This photograph documents that Lindsley climbed Chikamin in 1902, and also that members of the USGS also climbed the mountain before him.

Persons reaching the summit of Chikamin are encouraged to look for both inscribed rocks, and to post on this page if they find anything.
Posted Oct 20, 2005 4:39 pm
marionthegoatRe: register rock

Hasn't voted

Wow, I'd love to see Lindsley's photo. Any chance we can get it posted ?
Posted Mar 1, 2006 7:18 am
denisseattleRe: register rock


Hasn't voted


Not the exact photo, but a starting point for browsing the collection online.
Posted Aug 9, 2014 12:47 am
bgroenDay trip via PCT very possible

Voted 9/10

A buddy and I just did this C2C in 12.5 hours at a moderate pace. 14 miles one way (28 rndtrp) seems a stretch but hey. Awesome day, no bugs to speak of and great views all around.
Posted Jul 28, 2013 12:47 pm
Snidely WhiplashRe: Day trip via PCT very possible

Snidely Whiplash

Hasn't voted

I think you guys aren't giving yourselves due credit. Check out the 100 Hikes book. The Huckleberry-Chikamin saddle is 10.25 miles from Snoqualmie Pass. Chikamin Pass is 14 miles from Snoqualmie Pass, and when climbing up Chikamin, you leave the PCT anywhere from 1/2 to 1 mile before Chikamin Pass, depending on the gully you ascend, so you guys did do about a 28 mile day. As a day trip, it's definitely possible. For most of us, though, it's not practical.
Posted Jul 29, 2013 9:52 am

Hasn't voted

Amazingly beautiful hike but a few corrections for mineral creek to Chikamin peak via glacier lake route. First, round trip distance is about 17 miles not 14 and total elevation gain is 6,400. Second, the driving directions are incorrect, they point you toward the pete lake trail. Do not turn right onto cooper lake road, instead continue straight at this junction until the road ends at mineral creek trail head. Next as a warning, the mineral creek trail crosses a stream a few hundred yards in, then seems to be going completely the wrong direction back toward lake kachess but eventually turns back up the valley where you are headed. Finally, use caution if you plan to hike in past glacier lake then use the valleys on the southwest side of chikamin as a shortcut on your descent. Although the PCT appears tantalizingly close, the valleys are steep with loose rock and grass and it is difficult to ascertain the safest route due to cliffs. If you didn't come up this way and aren't part mountain goat, going back down will take far longer than you would expect.
Posted Jul 19, 2015 1:23 pm
Snidely WhiplashRe: Corrections

Snidely Whiplash

Hasn't voted

Corrections are welcomed, but I question these. The driving directions are taken straight out of the Harvey Manning/Ira Spring hiking book for Mineral Creek Park, and they are correct since I made it to the summit. Pete Lake is up Road 113, and Mineral Creek up Road 4600. Second, the distance is not 17 miles from Mineral Creek Park. It is 5 miles to Upper Park Lake, and only 1/4 mile to Alta Pass from there. When at Alta Pass, you are at most 1.5 miles from the peak. Third, 6,400 feet elevation gain is is a bit much. The trailhead is at 2,400 feet, and the summit is 7,000. There are almost no ups and downs, unless you hike to Glacier Lake from Upper Park Lake, but still, that is only an extra 600 feet each way. It's hard to see where the other 600 feet is gained.
Posted Jul 24, 2015 12:30 am
ps157328@yahoo.comSouth on PCT?

Hasn't voted

The description to ascend west side of Chikamin, says to head SOUTH on PCT after crossing Chikamin pass, then it says to go at least 1/3 mile SOUTH before leaving the trail. Looking at the map, it seems that north is the only possible heading after crossing pass.
Posted Jun 22, 2016 12:38 am
Snidely WhiplashRe: South on PCT?

Snidely Whiplash

Hasn't voted

Indeed, I can see where this can be confusing. The direction from Chikamin (or Alta) Pass may be heading temporarily north, but this only due to the terrain. If you follow that same trail further from Chikamin Pass, it does a semi-circle around the basin of Chikamin and heads in a a southerly direction towards Snoqualmie Pass. Let's face it, if you head the opposite direction on the PCT from Chikamin Pass, you're not heading north or south, you're heading east. Perhaps it would be clearer to say "Take the trail in the direction of Snoqualmie Pass," which is ultimately to the south, even if the trail temporarily veers north." Kind of like when you get on I-5 North and the road temporarily veers east or west.
Posted Jun 22, 2016 10:35 am

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