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Kendall Peak Lakes Snowshoe

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The roar of the highway is unmistakable when starting up this track, but soon the beauty of the winter wilderness surrounding the trail makes everything else fade into the background. The dark green firs and hemlocks lining the ridge, the open, quilted meadows of snow, and the wide avenue of the trail make this a perfect destination for snowshoers.
The trail leads to a pair of small alpine ponds nestled in a deep cirque on the flank of towering Kendall Peak (5,675 feet). The mountain dominates the skyline from the lake's basin, as well as along the last mile of the trail leading into the basin. But Kendall isn't the only peak on the horizon. To the east is Alta Mountain and the long line of Rampart Ridge. To the south is the peak used as the Snoqualmie Summit Ski Area--a low broad peak lined with the wide white slashes of alpine ski runs. Below the lakes, the broad meadows along the bottom of the Gold Creek valley glimmer a brilliant white in the afternoon sun. Although the trail ascends nearly 2000 feet, the climbing is gradual and the trail is easy to follow. Because of that, first-time ‘shoers and young kids will enjoy this outing as much as experienced snowshoe enthusiasts. Of course, all of those features coupled with the trail's close proximity to the Seattle metropolitan area means a lot of snowshoers and skiers on any winter weekend. Strap on the snowshoes midweek, though, and the trail will be virtually deserted.

Snowshoe up the Gold Creek valley, staying close to the left (west) side of the valley, and in a few hundred yards, find an old logging road climbing left into the trees and up the valley wall. This road is steep for 0.25 mile, and then the ascent moderates considerably. The road enters an old clearcut just past the 0.5-mile mark and twists and turns its way up the slope. You can either stay with the moderate pitch of the road or take a steeper, more direct, northerly approach straight up the slope, cutting off the switchback corners. Pause often to rest. Use the excuse of stopping to admire the increasingly pretty views south over the Gold Creek basin, Hyak Ski Area, and Mount Catherine if you are the competitive sort who doesn't like to admit to fatigue!

At 1.7 miles, the route hooks through a sharp hairpin turn to the right. A wide spur road heads off to the left, leading to a nice overlook of the lower Coal Creek basin and the ski areas at Snoqualmie Pass. Stay right if you are bound for the lakes. The road traverses east toward the snout of a narrow ridge and, at that leading edge of the ridge, turns north and climbs steeply through forest and meadow. The track stays on the west side of the ridge crest, banking right at 2.6 miles, and at 3.5 miles hooking sharply south in a switchback turn.

Stay north, snowshoeing off the road near the apex of the hairpin corner, climbing through mostly open slopes to the ridge crest leading to Kendall Lakes. The trail nears Coal Creek at 4.2 miles and follows it the remainder of the way to the lakes' basin, rolling over two small knolls before reaching the lower of the twin Kendall Lakes. Avoid the upper lake because the tight, avalanche-prone walls of the cirque are not a safe way to approach it.

Author’s Rating: Most Difficult
Hikers should have good experience and familiarity with snowshoes. This route features sections that will need to be evaluated for avalanche safety every time. Trails climb considerably and may include climbing to ridge tops. Traverses across forested or open slopes may be required. An ability to self-arrest with an ice axe or trekking pole recommended.
Driving Directions:

To get there, from Seattle drive east on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass to exit 54, 2 miles east of the pass's summit. Exit I-90, turn left, and cross under the freeway to reach the Gold Creek Sno-Park just a few hundred feet north of the highway interchange.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 62 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Kendall Peak Lakes Snowshoe — Mar 21, 2014 — SuziDonarski
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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The road has not been groomed in a long time. We followed the road then about 2.5 miles up the road ...
The road has not been groomed in a long time. We followed the road then about 2.5 miles up the road someone made a path that goes off the road. The snow was really deep. The path connected back up with the road but than veered off again. We followed the trail that veered off the road because we didn't see any tracks on the road. The trail goes up to the first lake but we didn't see any snowshoe tracks going to the peak. After the first lake we decided to turn around because we were running out of daylight. It was a beautiful day for a hike although and a great workout!
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Kendall Peak Lakes Snowshoe — Feb 08, 2014 — Claire Mitchell
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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We took advantage of another cold but clear day to clomp around in the snow near Kendall Peak. Parke...
We took advantage of another cold but clear day to clomp around in the snow near Kendall Peak. Parked at the Gold Creek Sno-Park right off of I-90 which requires a Sno-Park pass. Make sure to pick one up before starting you day as there are monitors who check.

The trail couldn't be more accessible or easier to find. Perfect for a day of snowshoeing as you really can't get lost. With snowshoes on, it was quite a workout, but the snow covered trees and snow capped mountains were an amazing reward for our hard work. We followed the trail (which seemed to be an old logging road) for 2-3 miles until we came to a clearing that allowed for incredible views of the Snoqualmie Summit ski area and other surrounding peaks. We stopped for a bite of lunch, but didn't linger as it got very cold just standing around. We were each equipped with toe warmers, hand warmers, glove liners, and heavy gloves, but our extremities were still feeling the cold on this trek. We turned around from our lunch spot overlooking I-90 and and Lake Keechelus and started back down to the parking area.

There were many families with their kids playing in the snow near the trailhead; however, after .25-.5 mile the crowds thin out significantly. We passed only a couple of groups on showshoers/skiers along the way.
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Kendall Peak Lakes Snowshoe — Jan 29, 2014 — HerkimerVance
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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Just a quick conditions update - As of 9pm, there were approximately 8" of new snow on the trail wit...
Just a quick conditions update - As of 9pm, there were approximately 8" of new snow on the trail with more falling. Not all brush is snow covered yet on the trail, but it's still easily passable. Road plowed only 100m beyond intersection which could be problematic for some passenger cars.

We left after 6pm, but did not need lights until far up the trail when fog obscured the ski lights from Summit West. Skinny ski tracks were evident along with ravines from earlier snow melt. Beautiful conditions for an evening stroll. We hiked part way up the trail to a nice view point of Summit West. Looking forward to making the summit next time.
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Kendall Peak Lakes Snowshoe — Jan 26, 2014 — string cheeze
Day hike
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Just a head's up. Didn't get to do this hike as the snow park monitor wanted $20 to park near the tr...
Just a head's up. Didn't get to do this hike as the snow park monitor wanted $20 to park near the trail head. Any additional info through comments would be appreciated.
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Kendall Peak Lakes Snowshoe — Jan 22, 2014 — MCamp
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Quiet Wednesday morning overcast and cool at the trailhead. This was my first time on this trail. ...
Quiet Wednesday morning overcast and cool at the trailhead. This was my first time on this trail. I wore microspikes and carried snowshoes. Never needed snowshoes today, the trail is compact snow and ice. The trail is alot like walking up a green (cat track) route...very wide with light incline and compacted snow today. I would recommend this for a snowshoe beginner, albeit the trail length is difficult. No views today. Saw one other hiker today.

In winter be prepared for a bit of a hike to the trailhead and watch for special gifts on the trail left by dogs.
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kendall peak mountaineer extraordinaire.JPG
Kendall Peak. Photo by mountaineer extraordinaire.
Location
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Baker Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 9.0 miles
Elevation Gain 1700 ft
Highest Point 4400 ft
Features
Lakes
Mountain views
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails: Snoqualmie Pass No. 207

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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