It was one of those mornings that I got up at early enough to be on the road at 4 a.m. since I had a big day ahead of me. Driving from my home in Kennewick, I headed north to Kettle Falls and from there to Sherman Pass on highway 20. Just before getting to Sherman Pass, head north on FR 2030. At 0.6, keep right. At 3.4, pass the signed Wapaloosie trailhead; at 3.7 and 3.8 keep left at forks signed "S. Deadman". Stay on the main road past various unmarked spurs. At 7.4 miles you'll find the signed "Old State" trailhead on your left. Turn left, cross a cattle guard, and park at the turnaround loop/trailhead sign in the trees about 0.1 mile off the main road. A new vault toilet is in the area so you. Inside the TH area, obviously geared to horse traffic, there are several picnic tables and a very informative sign that tells you much much more about the Old Stage road.
Hike the road (closed to motor vehicles) to the saddle at 6,040+ feet. You go from normal forest to where the forest burned back in 1994 which destroyed thousands of acres in this are. I enjoyed ehe fireweed and other flowers that I saw. Continue just over the saddle (about 50 yards) and pick up the Kettle Crest trail on the left. Head south (but uphill) , through a single set of switchbacks, to the top of the ridge.
The summit is marked by a cairn and several smaller cairns in the summit area. A benchmark will be found as well as a memorial to a young man whose life was cut short at a young age (but there is no info given as to why). Nice views in all directions but I didn't linger very long at the summit as after I grabbed a quick snack and snapped a few pics, I was back on my way down the trail, heading back for my vehicle since I still wanted to climb Abercrombie Peak (further east) later in the day. Total: Round trip was about 6 miles with 1600-1700 feet of elevation gain. I did hear something crashing in the forest on my way up towards the saddle during the hike in and it was most likely a deer, elk or even a bear. I did see fresh bear sign and tracks but they were most likely trying to get away from me.
A great area that I'd love to go back and spend more time in and visit some of the other peaks in the area.