PCT Hiking – Kendall Katwalk

The first time I hiked to Kendall Katwalk on the Pacific Crest Trail was 2003. We had just moved to King County in the spring, and I worked my way East up the I-90 hikes as the snow melted. Somewhere I have a picture of Ford and I at the end of the Katwalk. He was 5 years old the first time he did it just before he started Kindergarten.

I’d hike to Kendall a couple more times, twice as backpacking trips, and a few more times as dayhiking. When I section hiked section J from Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass my memory of Kendall was nothing more than relief. I hiked 19 miles my last day on that hike. When I walked across the Katwalk I knew I had only 7.5 more miles and it was nearly all downhill. I was ready to go home that day. I passed Scott Williamson on his famous first Yo-Yo hike of the PCT that day. I was moving so fast downhill I barely nodded a hi. Only later did my friend Steve browbeat me of who I had passed. Oops. Celebrity status is wasted on me.

Years later after that trip, a friend asked if I wanted to come along on a dayhike. She loved to do early morning hikes, so we got up before dawn to be at the trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass as the sun was just rising. Benefits include: Almost no bugs and rarely any other humans out that early. You see wildlife often, and you get photos before the heavy summer midday sun blows out your lighting.

Early in the morning, in the first open area after you leave the pass.

The views across the valley.

Lichens on the boulders.

Red Mountain in the far distance.

The sun coming up above the ridge we would be climbing and traversing. The area is an old avalanche chute.

Each switchback take ones higher. Looking down the avalanche chute.

The trail winds up, back and forth, then shoots into the woods and traverses the hillside, before shooting out on the ridge, heading North. Stop and look behind often. Mount Rainier (Tahoma) gets bigger with every step.

Looking North-ish as you traverse the trail.

The elevation of this hike is well worth it.


The trail winds up higher, through mostly rock fields, with some subalpine trees.

Looking back south-ish down the trail and Mount Rainier far away.

The higher rock fields have some flat spots that the Hoary Marmots love hanging out in. There is one in the photo, well disguised.


As you reach the top of the ridge, the rock starts changing, and has an iron content. It is neat to stop and look at. The trail leaves the open hillside and turns to enter cool forest for a bit.

The views from across the valley. Iron Mountain is pretty obvious.

The trail in the woods winds along just below the ridge in shade. There are a few side trails that pop up onto rocky balds just above the trail. These are great lunch spots and you have phenomenal views of Eastern Washington.

The start of Kendall Katwalk.

Looking back at the Katwalk (looking south). While it looks narrow, it is wide enough for two adults to walk, or one person to hug the inside. It was designed to handle horses, so is well graded.

Looking North from the Katwalk. From here on it is easy hiking for miles. You stay on the top or just below the ridge until you cross the end of the traverse – and the views never stop during it. It’s well worth the hiking and bucket list worthy.

Looking North further. Stuart Mountain is in the far distance. Even if one only goes a bit further, it is worth the hike to continue on top Ridge and Gravel Lakes for an overnight backpacking trip.

But alas, that day….the sun was getting high in the sky, and we had to get home, so we turned around. The hike down went quickly enough and we passed friends we didn’t know were out that day.

Mountain Ash, just starting to get color. By Fall they are vivid red.

And as we cleared the final section of open trail, I put my camera away and tucked into the final miles. The only downside of this hike is the last 1.5 or so miles in the deep forest. After a day high in heaven, it’s the pits to walk this and be ready to sit down and dream of doing it again….

12 miles or so round trip. Do it when the snow is gone for the easiest hiking. Snow and ice can be dangerous on this trail.


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