From spring flowers to summer berries to fall colors to winter vistas, this trail through the Columbia Highlands has something new to offer each season of the year. In the warmer months, try the circumnavigation of Sherman Peak plus the bonus excursion out to picturesque Snow Peak cabin. Plan ahead and rent the cabin, which is reservable for $30 per night for up to six people, year-round.
Camping here is hardly roughing it, as the cabin rental comes complete with wood stove, firewood supply, cots, table, propane cook stove, basic cookware, and solar lighting. Bring your own food and water, but otherwise, a visit to Snow Peak Cabin is where glamping meets backpacking.
Since the parking lot at the top of Sherman Pass is less than a quarter-mile north of Highway 20, trailhead access couldn't be easier. A SnoPark permit is required in the winter and funds the snow removal that makes year-round access possible at this highest mountain pass in Washington state. No permit is required for summer access.
Begin the hike by crossing Highway 20, as the parking lot is on the north side of the pass, but the trail to Snow Peak cabin is on the south side. From the pass, elevation 5,574 feet, begin to climb a series of switchbacks up the northern flank of Sherman Peak on the Kettle Crest South Trail. After approximately one mile, reach the intersection of the Kettle Crest (due east) and the Sherman Peak Loop Trail (due west), as well as a reliable spring. During the warmer months of the year, stay on the Kettle Crest at this junction for the best views of the aftermath of the 1988 White Mountain Fire, noting that the return is via the Sherman Peak Loop.
For winter visitors, snow levels and steep slopes make an out-and-back via the Loop trail a better alternative, but be sure to take note of avalanche conditions before you go and carry necessary snow travel equipment.
When the two trails reconverge on the south side of Sherman Peak, continue south on the Kettle Crest trail. The trail skirts Snow Peak on its way to the cabin; the pyramid-shaped peak to the right is Bald Mountain. At approximately the five-mile mark, watch for a small spring on the left and the spur trail to the cabin on the right. The spring is the only water source, so be sure to pack a filter.
The cabin makes an excellent final destination on this trail, but the adventurous can use it as a jumping off point for further exploration. The Kettle Crest Trail continues to its southern terminus approximately 7 miles distance, passing Barnaby Butte and White Mountain en-route. Approximately one mile south of Snow Peak Cabin on the Kettle Crest, watch for intersecting Edds Mountain Trail (#3) which contours around both Bald and Edds Mountains on a seldom-used trail.
WTA Pro Tip: Plan ahead, especially if you'd like to book the cabin on a weekend. According to the Colville National Forest website, reservations must be made at least two days in advance. The longest length stay is five consecutive nights. Phone 1-877-444-6777 or visit www.recreation.gov for more information about cabin rentals.
- 10.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 875 feet
- Highest Point
- 6,400 feet
Hiking Snow Peak
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 48.5772, -118.5233 Open in Google Maps