OverviewLittle Kachess, and Thomas, and French Cabin Mountain. The three main peaks of the complex are the West Peak (highest), North Peak, and the South Peak. All three French Cabin Mountain peaks are moderate scrambles in a scenic area just east Kachess Lake, standing between the French Cabin and Silver Creek drainages. They are all relatively easy (Class 2) scrambles with quick access from the populated areas of Puget Sound, but still give the impression of an outing in the Wilderness. For a quick jaunt into the mountains and an easy, scenic summit that doesn't see much traffic, French Cabin Mountain is a great choice.
The West Peak
Drive I-90 East from Seattle, getting off at Exit 80. Head through the towns of Roslyn and Ronald, driving 12 miles past downtown Roslyn. Just past the end of Cle Elum Lake, turn left on French Cabin Creek Road #4308 and drive about 7 miles to the trailhead for Trail #1305. The roads here are overgrown with brush and rough. Go as far as you feel comfortable, but high-clearance vehicles can be of use here. Trailhead elevation: 3700 feet. From the parking area, you will have a great view of the French Cabin Mountain group, and in particular, the precipitous North Face of the West Peak.
Trail #1305 starts in clearcut and heads up the hillside for the pass between the West Peak and another of the subpeaks of the French Cabin Mountain group. At 1.5 miles, the trail will merge with the Kachess Ridge Trail. Head left (south) and arrive at the headwaters of Silver Creek. Hike down the valley, with French Cabin Peak on your left (west). Go about 1 mile until the topography allows easy access to gain the ridge, then head due east, gain the South Ridge of the West Peak, and follow easy cross-country terrain to the summit. Trip distance: About 6 miles round-trip. Elevation gain: About 2800 feet with ups and downs.
North and South Peaks
Follow the directions to the French Cabin Creek Road #4308 as described above. Follow the road about 3 miles, looking for Road #115 on the left. Take this short road, and if in a high-clearance vehicle, cross French Cabin Creek over a concrete-lined creek. If not in a high-clearance vehicle, don't chance it. Park across the river in a large open area, finding a barricaded road at the south end of the parking area. Park here.
Climb the abandoned road about 2 miles until the road is barricaded by boulders. On the left, you will see the start of the Domerie Peak Trail #1308. Hike this very steep trail about 2 miles, going up and down high bumps on the trail. About 1 mile past point 5023, you will be directly under the North Peak. Leave the trail and head straight up to the ridge and the summit.
To reach the South Peak, follow the very easy 1-mile ridge connecting the two peaks due south. Trip Stats: 10 miles roundtrip. Class 2. About 3600 feet elevation gain with ups and downs.
Red TapeThis is an unprotected area near the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. A NW Trailhead Pass (Cost: $30/year)is not required to park since none of the trailheads have any improvements such as toilets.
There is practically no camping possibilities for the North and South Peaks except the parking area. For the West Peak, the first good camping opportunity is over the the pass at the headwaters of Silver Creek. This is a very broad, open basin, with good flowing water well into July. Good campgrounds abound here. There is evidence of horse traffic here as well, and some of the camps are large enough to accommodate pack animals. Remember, this is unprotected area.
Cle Elum Ranger District
West 2nd Street
Cle Elum, WA 98922
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