Total Ascent: 2100ft
Highest Point: 4750ft
Total Distance: 8.5 miles
Location: N 47° 25.9197, W 121° 22.8277
Required Permit: None
This week found us just over Snoqualmie Pass exploring some of the shorter jaunts around Hyak. After a few weeks of longer forays to various summits along the I-90 corridor, we were looking forward to a leisurely hike. A mountain lake seemed the ideal destination on a brisk October day, so we pointed the car in the direction of Kendall Peak Lakes and hit the road.
Kendall Peak Lakes have always been lakes that were seen more than they were visited. Couched in a cul-de-sac of mountain ridges, the three lakes were so often observed from the surrounding lofty heights that we today we continue to refer to them as just that: lakes seen and accessed via Kendall Peak. Nowadays, extensive logging and the roads that go along with it have hewn a much easier route to Kendall Peak Lakes, though it was a high price to pay for ease of access, as the vast fields of clear-cut forest are still struggling to recover.
The trail is mostly decommissioned logging road, making for a leisurely stroll through alders and vine maples. The shrubbery quickly gives way to long views of stump-strewn clear cuts complete with young saplings struggling against low underbrush. The carefully carved slopes of the Snoqualmie Ski Resort contrast with the clear-cuts and dominate the view. The road is short - just a few switchbacks and one slightly confusing intersection are between you and a clear path toward the craggy mountaintops of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
As the logging road begins to thin and taper out, keep watch for a cairn indicating a boot-path to the lakes. The roughly cut trail will bring you to the first meadow-bound lake. More accurately a pond, the reed-lined waters are surrounded by marsh, so watch your step. Upon reaching the lake, the trail becomes more intermittent, branching off in dozens of directions. There is more than one viable route up to the next lake, accessed on either side of the pond.
The middle child of the Kendall Peak Lakes makes for something more of a destination, but it pales in comparison to the last lake. We highly recommend that you press onward and upward. The trick is to find the trail to access it. Simply work your way around to the far side of the second lake to the talus field and start climbing your way up. Hopefully you’ll be able to find the shadows of a path up the very steep mountainside. Ascend roughly 200’ to the last and largest of the Kendall Peak Lakes. Surrounded by steep cliffs and talus, the lake somehow feels remote and private. Unpack your lunch and enjoy.
This is great hike for those looking for a quick escape – a taste of the wilderness just a few miles away from I-90. In the winter this is an extremely popular snowshoe route, since the grade and distance are perfect for a romp through fresh powder. Keep this one on the list for the first snowshoe trip this year.
To get there, take I-90 to the Hyak Exit #54 and head right to the Gold Creek parking area. Depending on snow conditions, you can either park here or continue the half-mile on Forest Road #9090 to the road block before piling out and heading up. - Nathan
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