Kachess Lake Stuart from Kachess
Kachess Ridge, also known as "Little Kachess," are the unofficial names of Point 5194 on the high ridge bordering the eastern rim of Kachess Lake. Kachess Ridge lies in unprotected country, but borders the southern reaches of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It is a fun early-season scramble that is best used as a conditioner, or a nice place to go when avalanche danger plagues the higher mountains. It will also afford you a fine vantage to view peaks such as French Cabin Mountain
, Baldy, Domerie Ridge, and all of the Easton Peaks. In addition, there will be great views of the Snoqualmie Pass area, east towards Mt. Stuart, and north towards Mount Daniel
and Mount Hinman
Kachess Ridge is a fine early-season objective, being in prime condition from April until mid-June. Afterwards, this area around Easton tends to be very dry and hot. You will want to save this scramble for a time when the western slopes of the Cascades remain buried deep in snow and the skies are grey in the West.
Cutoff Point Ridge view North from Beacon Old Beacon Tower TOPO! Software Image
Driving east on I-90, take exit 70 and follow the Northside Perimeter Road 1/2 mile west to the junction with Forest Service Road #4818, also known as the Kachess Dam Road. Follow this road north for approximately 1 mile. Then turn right at sign for trails #1212 and #1315, then follow this very bumpy and brushy road for 1/2 mile to the Trailhead, elevation 2400 feet. Find Trail #1315 on your left (Kachess Ridge Trail) before crossing Silver Creek. If you come to Silver Creek, you've gone too far.
Follow trail #1315 up a steep hillside, and then up a valley for 1.5 miles to junction at a switchback. The switchback is sometimes concealed with branches or rocks, and is at 3450 feet. Continue straight (left) at the switchback instead of making the switchback right. Climb to the top of the ridge, then continue north along the ridge and boot tracks to the radio tower at the top of the first false summit. Follow the ridge north for just over one mile to the peak at 5194 feet, which is unofficially called Little Kachess or Kachess Ridge.
Alternatively, you can stay on the trail past the switchback up to about 3700 feet, then head cross-country due West up to the ridge crest through open forest and hit the radio tower almost directly.
Trip Stats: 7 miles round trip, Elevation Gain: 3000 feet, Class 2
No red tape at all. This entire trip lies within unprotected country. A Northwest Trail Park Pass ($30/year) may be required to park at the trailhead, but no permits will be needed.
There is fine camping up the Silver Creek Basin, but once you have left the Kachess Ridge Trail and gone for the radio tower, there are no more camping opportunities, especially after the snow is gone (by late June).
Summit in Distance
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
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