The Kendall Katwalk is justifiably one of the most popular hikes near Snoqualmie Pass. It’s a strenuous hike but the scenery is spectacular from beginning to end.
The first stretch is mostly forested but is broken up with occasional splashes of colorful vine maple here and there. Devil’s club has turned yellow, its big leaves reminiscent of maple leaves but with treacherous needle-like stickers. In October there were few flowers along the trail – in the forest remnants of Canadian dogwood, Solomons seal and vanilla leaf. At the Katwalk there were a few harebells and pearly everlasting.
We always look forward to that first view of Guye Peak (left) as the PCT breaks out of the forest to contour a boulder field. There are also good views of Red Mountain and Snoqualmie Mountain.
Shortly past a slightly tricky stream crossing you’ll come to a signed junction for the Commonwealth Basin Trail No. 1033 (left) that drops then climbs to Red Pass, another scenic hike. Continue straight on the PCT. From the trail junction the PCT climbs through dense vegetation - blueberry shrubs, bracken, fireweed, false hellebore and mountain ash. Eventually the vegetation gives way to old-growth forest and another stream crossing, this one easier than the first.
Further along you’ll see where trail crews cleared a large blowdown earlier this year. You’ll also begin to glimpse sky through the forest canopy and when you break out of the trees below Kendall Ridge the views are mesmerizing. The colorful fall foliage extends to the base of the ridge and you will unconsciously slow your pace to take in the vivid displays and views of the Snoqualmie peaks.
The PCT wraps its way around Kendall Ridge and there we found a thin layer of snow and occasional ice in the shade; not enough to warrant traction devices but conditions can change quickly this time of year. There was a definite winter chill in the air despite the sun and blue skies.
The boulders that border the trail are splashed with lichen in just about every color you can imagine and in places sparkled with a glaze of ice. After minor ups and downs the trail reaches a viewpoint – this is not the Kendall Katwalk proper but the views are impressive. Just before you get to the Katwalk the trail narrows and a sign encourages horseback riders to dismount. It’s not a place to fall.
The PCT curves above a talus slope before it comes out at the Kendall Katwalk, a section of the trail that was blasted out of solid granite. So many peaks come into view that you’ll want the map to help identify them – for starters, Mount Thompson, Red Mountain, Lundine, the Four Brothers and Chikamin Peak to mention a few.
Be prepared to share those views - the Kendall Katwalk is a popular hike and many hikers make that their lunch spot or turnaround.
Check the weather before you go - the Katwalk is treacherous when snow-covered or icy. Go soon – winter may come early this year.
To get to the trailhead: From the west take I-90 and get off at Exit No. 52 and turn left (north) under the interstate. Take the first immediate right to the Pacific Crest Trail trailhead and parking. A Northwest Forest Pass is required. At the trailhead be sure to fill out a permit to enter the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (required).
Information: The map is Green Trails No. 207 Snoqualmie Pass. The hike is 12.4 miles round trip with 2,655 feet of elevation gain. The trail is closed to bicycles and motorized vehicles – dogs must be leashed. For additional information, trail conditions, call the Snoqualmie Ranger District (Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest) at 425-888-1421.