Oct 06, 2002
this destination is located between snoqualmie mountain and guye peak--just east above the alpental parking lot.
this was a sunny day to hike, but there was rain the night before. so with the trail overgrown near the top of the treeline, i ended up soaked from the chest down--not a good condition given that i was solo and the temperatures were in the high-risk hypothermia range.
to get to the caves, take the unmarked overgrown entry just to the right of the trailhead to snow lake. there is lots of mud-covered talus. the one major blowdown marks a kink in the trail. note it and go left. a little higher up is the one exposure crossing some rocks--just walk close to the mtn to avoid it. in 45 minutes, you reach a fork just in front of a rock face--this is lower cave ridge. the only trail sign is nailed high on a tree on the left. take the switchbacks thru the rockfield to the right of the fork. about 2/3 up the field, the path straightens out and goes to the right. you will see cairns marking the route thru the rocks. keeping the rockwall on your left, just circle counterclockwise and rise up the incline. do NOT take the turnoff and attempt to climb the rocks.
the trail is well-trodden. unfortunately, there are many bunny trails up high. bear left and up. the one tricky route-finding is thru the area of pits. i suggest you mark the correct turnoffs either mentally, or with tape or made cairns [the reason is given below]. look back here frequently to see how the trail will look going back down. the critical route decision is the turnoff to guye peak--but where that turnoff[s] is is unclear. if you run into a second rockband, bear left. in general, you want to stay left. when you appear at the overlooks to the dry creekbed between cave ridge and snoqualmie mtn--above the second rockband, you will know that you are on the right trail. there are 2-3 such overlooks. keep switchbacking up. there is a final pit--the biggest one that you will pass-- just a hundred feet below the top of the ridge. unlike the other pits, it is out in the sun with no trees around. a sign down ten feet below the surface marks the cave. this is the cave!
i bumped into a party of 4 guys who were on their 4th try to find the cave--who finally found it. with all the bunny trails, it was clear how difficult this routefinding is. one in the party said the pit goes down 20 feet, then the cave starts. unfortunately, they had only one small rope that they were anchoring at ground level for the pit descent. suggest that you take a 2nd one into the cave. headlamps, of course, are a must. hardhats are not a bad idea, either.
i wasn't caving. so i continued up the trail to the top. there were several well constructed camping spots plus obvious old fire places. in the sun, there are some great places to stretch out for a suntan and dryout. looking east, you can see the small tarn and the top of the dry creekbed. looking south, you can see guy peak.
deciding to call it a day, i went back down the trail. however, i got lost in the bunny trails, and ended up at the lowest overlook in full view of the bottom of the dry creekbed. so i scrambled down, and headed back up snoqualmie mtn taking the middle of the 3 likely routes back to the trees on the left. once in the trees, i just traversed hoizontally and did easily find the trail to snoqualmie mtn. downclimbing, i finally returned back to the fork.
if you end up in the dry creekbed, do NOT continue down the bed. the rocks get steep and they are wet--dangerous footing.
such a small adventure for what is otherwise an easy hike!