Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 48.40800°N / 121.275°W
Additional Information Elevation: 7433 ft / 2266 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Snowking Mountain may well be the largest mountain under 8,000 ft in the Washington Cascades. As such, it is a distinctive sight from most alpine viewpoints in the Northwest Cascades of Washington. Strangely, though, the mountain is not really visible from any highways. Parts of it can be seen from SR-20 near Concrete, but the summit itself remains hidden. The Snowking massif is spread out over roughly 10 square miles and contains several sub-summits. The Snowking Glacier clads most of the mountain's north slopes. This glacier drains northeast into a basin occupied by four lakes, the most prominent of these being Found Lake. The south side of Snowking is very alpine but does not cradle a glacier, despite the abundance of snowfall received every year. In late summer, the whole of the south side has transformed to the light gray tone of metamorphosed granite. This side drains into Illabot Creek. Other drainages serviced by Snowking are Otter Creek on the northwest, Found Creek on the northeast, and Mutchler Creek on the east.

In opposition to its rocky neighbor Mt. Chaval to the southwest across Illabot Creek, Snowking is a fairly popular objective that is not too technically demanding. In early season, it is merely a long snow slog. Later in the season, crevasses on the north and talus/slabs on the south are the defining features underfoot. There are three main summits and about five or six subsidiary points--especially if you include Mutchler Peak, which is merely the alpine high point of the long, curving Southeast Ridge. None of the summits are hard to climb, though the Middle Summit is probably the most difficult (class 3 and 4).

Getting There

Snowking Mountain can be climbed in a long day but two-day trips are probably most common. Our party climbed it in roughly 14 hours. Our Route was from the west. The most used route is that of Kindy Ridge (the Northeast Ridge). There are four standard routes: Kindy Ridge, Northwest Route, West Route, and Illabot Creek Route.

Kindy Ridge Route

Probably 75 percent of parties choose this route. It is the least technically demanding but has the disadvantage of starting at a lower elevation (2,350 ft) and not touring the whole of the mountain. It simply ascends the Northeast Ridge all the way to the summit, which itself is the culmination of said ridge. From Marblemount, drive 14.2 miles up the Cascade River Road and turn right on Kindy Creek Road (FR-1570). Drive as far as possible up the road. Logging on the slopes often determine how far you can go. It may be possible to drive as far as 4 miles. Whatever can't be driven must be walked. When the road gets to 2,350 ft in elevation, leave it for a steep path into old growth. Trend southwestward up onto the ridge. There are various places to camp en route. A pond at 4,500 ft is a possibility. From here, the basic idea is to stay on the ridge as much as possible. Impediments may force detours. Beckey gives an adequate description in his Cascade Alpine Guide. The ascent to the summit is not too terribly difficult. Crevasses and steep slopes on the glacier can be avoided. The last bit arrives at the summit from the SSE.

Northwest Route

See here for a trip report for this route.
A good route, though probably the most technical due to a fair amount of class 3 sidehilling. Take Illabot Creek Road for 21 miles to the Slide Lake Trail (circa 2,800 ft). Hike into Slide Lake (3,110 ft) in 1.5 miles and later Enjar Lake (4 hours). There is supposdely a fisherman's trail on the north side of Otter Creek. A good camp location would be at Enjar Lake or at nearby Hamar Lake. From Hamar Lake, trend southeastward (avoiding a cliffband on the right) to the saddle immediately east of Pk 6743. This is where the steep sidehilling is located. Make a long arcing traverse first southwestward then southeastward up onto the Snowking Glacier. Avoiding crevasses and moats, continue toward the Main Summit, which should feature quite prominently to the east. The main summit is defined by a steep buttress on its north. Ascend to the saddle immediatlely west of the Main Summit. A short steep snowbank or class 3 rock gets one to the saddle. From there, turn left and scramble the broken ridge to the summit.

West Route

This route is all cross-country. It is the route we took. Start as per Northwest Route (c. 2800 ft), but instead only walk about 300 yards up the trail. Or, start directly from the trailhead. The idea is to immediately start bushwhacking modest forest brush southeastward to gain the ridge that forms. This ridge leads to Pt. 5465 in about one mile. Continue along the ridge or on its south side over to the 5,400-ft level southwest of Pk 5897 ("Ottabot Peak"). Contour below Ottabot Peak to the 5,200+ ft saddle on its southeast side. (Note: Ottabot Peak makes for an interesting diversion. It is a class 3 scramble with one short class 4 slab.) From the saddle, climb southward up the ridge a short distance. Now, there are two ways to continue: 1) south slopes, or 2) north slopes. If you would like to see the south slopes of Snowking, then choose the first option. If you want a more direct route that offers less views, choose the second option. It is certainly possible to go up one way and down the other. We went up via Option 1 and returned via Option 2.

Option 1: Continue up the ridge from the saddle. The ridge becomes more distinct to the southeast of the obvious lake down below. Continue up the ridge. Some scrambling around crags and steps should be expected. The south side of the ridge starts out forested but the vegetation soon abates. Higher up, a steeper section of the ridge can be avoided by trending farther below the crest. This is in the vicinity of Pt. 6100. Continue contouring around the slope. Rounding the southwest spur of Pt 6597, you will next see Pk 7015. (Beckey calls this the "Northwest Peak" but its really not situated to the northwest at all.) Ascend to the saddle between Pt. 6597 and Pk 7015. Climb over the top of Pk 7015 then continue on to the long spur leading north off of Pk 7425 (West Summit). Drop down onto the upper reaches of the Snowking Glacier. The first view of the true summit will be gained here. A steep snowbank will need to be descended (glissaded). Traverse below the north side of the precipitous Middle Summit. Beyond the Middle Summit, take the easiest route possible back up to the ridge line then turn left (east) and scramble class 3 terrain to the Main Summit (some crags along the crest may pose routefinding issues).

Option 2: From slightly south of the 5,200+ ft saddle southeast of Ottabot Peak, make an angling ascent eastward across the north-facing basin to the spur ridge coming north off of Pk 7425. Continue as per Option 1.
This route took us roughly 14 hours round trip. Prepare for a long day whichever route you choose.

Illabot Creek Route

This route ascends from the road bridge over Illabot Creek to the small lake immediately south of Pk 5897 ("Ottabot Peak"). From the east side of the bridge, the idea is to hopefully find a fisherman's path to the lake. We couldn't find the path. But, if it is there, it supposedly follows above Illabot Creek for a spell then proceeds eastward in a rising traverse. When the canyon southwest of the lake is encountered, bear directly uphill (northward) to about 4,600 ft then resume going east to the lake. From the lake (est. 4,780 ft), continue southeastward to the ridge forming above at about 5,400 ft. Continue as per West Route (via Option 1 or 2).

Red Tape

Snowking Mountain is in the Glacier Peak Wilderness so standard wilderness policy applies. Only the Slide Lake Trail has an official trailhead. As such, that would probably be the only place a Trail Park Pass is required. However, the drive to it is so long (21 miles on logging road) that your chances of being caught without one are reduced. The rangers writing tickets tend to stick to the easily accessed, more popular trailheads.

When To Climb

You could conceivably climb this peak at any time of year provided you could drive to the "trailheads." The West and Northwest routes start at about 2,800 ft. The Kindy Ridge Route starts at as high as you could go drive up the access logging road. It is possible to do this climb in a very long day (14+ hours), but two days is more leisurely. In winter and spring you have shorter days and definite avalanche dangers. Probably the route most amenable to winter ascents would be Kindy Ridge.


Good camp locations:
On the northeast side: Kindy Ridge, Cyclone Lake
On the northwest side: Enjar Lake, Hamar Lake
On the west side: the lake south of Pk 5897 ("Ottabot Peak")
There are certainly others, but as this is a cross-country peak and because I haven't been all over it, alpine camping should be expected (i.e., at non-designated sites that might suit your tastes).

Mountain Conditions

Localized Forecast

Other Views from Snowking


Miscellaneous Info


External Links

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-4 of 4

dsweld - Aug 2, 2005 7:33 pm - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

As of 7/31/05 - there is a huge tree down AND a big washout at 2.2 miles on FR-1570 at ~1300' elevation, adding about 2 miles of road hiking. There is reasonable camping at road's end, but the next non-emergency camping is many hours away. The trail starts at the far end of an overgrown clearcut, just before a brook, and climbs steeply into oldgrowth. After reaching the ridge top, the trail descends slightly as it passes E of point 5116, before climbing to the saddle just S of 5116. At this saddle there is an easy-to-miss trail junction. The main trail descends 800' to Found Lake, but you should turn left (S) and climb 1000' to the top of point 5791 on an improving trail. From 5791 the trail becomes faint as it descends through cliffs, then becomes easy to follow as it crosses over or nearly over a few more points, bearing SSW, to the vicinity of Cyclone Lake and good camping. Five hours from the car and 5000' ascent.

From the E side of Cyclone lake, follow heather and easy slabs up Snowking's E ridge to the summit, fininishing on the S side. Class 2. Two hours and 2000' ascent. There are good bivy spots (melt snow for water) at 6300' and ~6900' on the E ridge.

An alternate route is the ridge on the W side of Cyclone lake then ascending the glacier to just E of the summit, rejoining the normal route. In contrast to some guidebook authors, I do -not- recommend following the W ridge if you intend to skirt the glacier, rejoining the normal route below the glacier, because the N face is cut by several annoying gulleys (class 3 and 4) which makes it slower than the normal route.


Z-Man - Aug 26, 2007 1:26 pm - Hasn't voted

mileage from Marblemount

is more like 14.2 miles than 13.2 miles. Turn-off is shortly after MP 14 sign.


Klenke - Aug 27, 2007 7:33 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: mileage from Marblemount

Thanks. I made the change.


Ringpiton - Jun 26, 2016 5:56 pm - Hasn't voted

Snowking Update

Definitely a beautiful and worthwhile peak. The approach has become more challenging as follows: The road, 1570, is blocked by a washout about 100 yards after crossing the Cascade River- thus fully maximizing the necessary elevation gain to climb the peak - from 1150 feet to 7433 feet. Follow the road after walking across the washout for a hundred yards and take the right fork, now blocked by the USFS with several large boulders. This old road is easy to follow but is very brushy about 40 percent of the time. At the end of the road is good camping. Allow 1.5 hours to hike to this point. The trail starts here at about 2300' and goes straight up the side of the hill, and remains very steep for almost two hours. It is not difficult to follow if one pays attention, but except for the first quarter mile no attempt has been made to maintain the trail. It is not brushy, though. After the first hour + of steep hiking the trail gets less steep. When you reach 4600' there is a flat boggy area with some forest camping along its edges. We camped a bit higher at 4757' in a less wet area, but with no running water. From the flat area at 4757' the trail veers off the main ridge (actually more like a forested shoulder) so one must pay attention. The trail does NOT go over the top of the 5080 forested knob ahead. Instead a good trail circles around on its east side and ends up in the saddle between this knob and the higher (5400') one just south. To find this nice boot trail start hiking into the woods on the SE corner of the open area. Unfortunately the trail is not flagged here and is very obscure, BUT it becomes distinct quite suddenly only 100 yards from the open area, and eventually has flags along its way. (We only found this trail on the way back, and it is easy to follow back northbound from the saddle). The saddle is a heavily forested lowpoint between the two large knobs. Hike to the western edge of the saddle on the trail. After descending maybe 20 vertical feet and walking 200 yards from the highpoint there is a faint split in the trail. The right fork is a fisherman's trail to Found Lake. Take the left fork which immediately goes up the south knob. This trail will ascend the NW slopes and then the west slops to the very summit of the knob. If you lose the trail in the snow (as we did) you risk getting into the otherwordly rocks of Mordor- a talus field like none I have ever seen with bottomless black pits surrounding each huge rock, the size of semi trucks. Your goal is to be on the top of the knob, as the horrifying talus field is in the upper west side. From the top of the knob the trail heads almost directly for Snowking, with a few twists and turns and minor bumps to ascend, and is pleasant. Eventually you will find yourself on another hillock overlooking Cyclone Lake. Most parties go left and take the NE Ridge to the top. We went right and crossed the outlet stream of the Lake. This required a rappel at the notch, but on the way back we found a way to skirt the cliffs around the outlet stream with a little scrambling just right above the lake. From Cyclone Lake the route to the summit is easy, with the final 100 feet of rocky bit being class two and on the east slope of the summit pinnacle. The area is exceedingly beautiful.

Viewing: 1-4 of 4



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.