12 Miles Roundtrip
2600 Feet Elevation Gain
I first heard about this hike last summer and have been wanting to check it out ever since. Kendall Katwalk is a 12-mile hike that follows the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) northbound starting at Snoqualmie Pass. The hike is most well-known for a section that has been blasted out of a steep cliff, with a dizzying drop straight down the mountain along one side.
On Sunday the stars aligned, and I finally got to hike the Katwalk. Snoqualmie Pass is only an hour’s drive from my house, and I arrived at the trailhead by 8:45 am. There were only a handful of other cars in the parking lot. The trailhead features a decent outhouse and includes a station to sign up for a free backcountry permit.
The trail climbs 2600 feet in elevation gradually over 6 miles, so it’s not as steep as some trails that I’ve recently been on (yay!). The first few miles wind through old growth trees as the trail climbs uphill. Craggy mountains peek through the trees, giving a taste of what’s to come.
Autumnal colors are spectacular right now – the hillside was awash with red and yellow foliage.
After a few miles, the trail broke out of the woods and into an alpine meadow known as Kendall Gardens. Mt. Rainier was visible to the south, although on Sunday it was shrouded in clouds on the horizon.
At the top, the trail follows a ridgeline with 360 degree views of mountains all around.
Kendall Peak was visible to the southeast and seemed close enough to scramble to if one was so inclined. I am not so inclined.
After another 10 minutes or so I came to the Katwalk. I was expecting something scarier, but my recent hike along the Wonderland Trail must have raised the bar for my tolerance of scary hiking trails. The path dropped off sharply on one side, but it was wide enough for two people to easily walk side by side. Not that I would have attempted that…
On the way way back down, I passed a handful of PCT through-hikers on the final leg of their 2650-mile trek from Mexico to Canada. It’s a little late in the season for through-hikers – most try to finish by October 1st as the weather can be iffy this time of year. Snow could start falling at any time up in the mountains. The weather was lovely on Sunday, however, and the few hikers that I talked to were anxiously hoping the weather would hold for a few more weeks.
I finished my hike my around 3:00 pm and averaged about 2.5 miles per hour, not counting my lunch break, which is a pretty good time for me these days. I had taken Ibuprofen before my hike and didn’t experience any foot pain so – lesson learned. Ibuprofen for the win!
Here’s hoping I can squeeze in a few more hikes before the weather starts changing in mountains!