Kendall Peak is located about 2 miles NE of Snoqualmie Pass, east of Commonwealth Basin and west of Gold Creek Basin. It has four, nearly equal in height summits, with the northern most peak being the highest at 5,784 feet. The standard route leads to the north summit. The other summits rarely see visitors. South of the summit ridge are the Kendall Peak Lakes which are two small alpine lakes nearly equal in size.
Since access to Kendall Peak via the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is easily manageable, it is a fairly accessible and popular summit. A class 2 scramble from several different routes and about 5 miles one way can prove for a good day. For those extra ambitious hikers, Kendall can be readily climbed in combination with nearby Red Mountain or Alaska Mountain.
Variation 1 (Standard Route)
For the most direct and least technical way to the summit, there are four critical junctions. This may sound bewildering at first but in actuality it is not as tricky as it sounds. From the parking lot follow the broad PCT east for a hundred yards or so. Watch for a sign on a tree in the path that says something about livestock. I think there is a symbol for a horse on the sign. Just past this sign on the left is the first junction. Turn left onto this unmaintained section of the old Cascade Crest trail. This will cut off an extra mile each way and save some elevation gain.
Follow the rocky path to where it crosses Commonwealth Creek. There are two crossings. Just before the first crossing, a small offshoot path leads down to the left where you can view a small waterfall and pool (pictured at right). A quarter mile beyond the second creek crossing, you reach the Commonwealth Basin trail. Turn right. (Left leads to Red Pass and Red Mountain.) In less than a tenth of a mile there is another junction where you rejoin the PCT. Take a sharp left and the trail begins a gradual uphill rise coming to the first switchback in a third of a mile. (Right leads back to your car.)
A mile and a half beyond the second switchback is the the fourth and final critical junction. This one is not obvious unless you know what to look for. This is when you feel glad that you read this description. Around 5200 feet, you will be looking for a particular stump. It is large and partially obstructs the left side of the trail. See this photograph. Fifteen feet beyond this stump turn to your right and you will be able to make out a faint boot path leading straight uphill. This will take you all the way to the summit.
I'm not sure why anyone would want to go this way since it is unnecessarily longer but here you go. From the parking lot, follow the newer rerouted Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) 2 miles to a junction. Turn right (up). Left (down) would lead to Red Pass and Red Mountain. You will reach the first switchback in a third of a mile. The trail crosses a small stream and then one mile beyond the first switchback is a second switchback.
A mile and a half miles beyond the second switchback is the the fourth and final critical junction. This one is not obvious unless you know what to look for. This is when you feel glad that you read this description. Around 5200 feet, you will be looking for a particular stump. It is large and partially obstructing the left side of the trail. Fifteen feet beyond this stump turn to your right and you will be able to make out a faint boot path leading straight uphill. This will take you all the way to the summit.
This is for those who want more of a challenge and have plenty of experience in scrambling. Follow the Variation 1 with the exception of bypassing the stump and boot path. Continue to follow the trail to where it crosses a pass to the east side of the ridge. From here scramble the ridge top south to the summit. Use extreme caution! The ridge ranges from Class 3-4 and there is plenty of loose rock.
From Seattle, take I-90 E to Exit 52. Turn left at the stop sign and cross under the freeway. Take the spur road immediately on your right and shortly thereafter, another right will lead to the parking lot for the PCT. This is a big parking lot with one public toilet. Free back country access permits are provided at the trail head. An alternative parking location would be the Summit West parking lot on the south side of the freeway. Parking there does not require a Northwest Forest Pass. Another benefit of parking at the Summit West lot is that your car will be out in the open and less likely to be broken into. If you park there, follow the PCT a short distance to the official trail head.
A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trail head. Also, a free, self-serve permit is needed to enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (located in the wooden box).
Is allowed but you must follow the Alpine Lakes Wilderness regulations. Leave no trace.
Bryan's 2009 Trip Report combination of Kendall and Alaska Mountain
Mike's 2009 Trip Report, also including Alaska Mountain