July 12th, 2014 4:59 PM by Sam Kader MLO# 130505
All you need is a good pair of boots and a basic day pack. Here are 5 hot spots for day hiking around Snoqualmie Region. • Granite Lakes, North Bend. 12 miles round trip, beginner to intermediate, 2,100 foot elevation gain. Best time to go: May-November. It’s close to Seattle and open most of the year with a newly rebuilt trail, so it’s really in good condition. There are views across the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River valley to Bessemer Mountain and the Green Mountains.
• Kendall Katwalk, Snoqualmie Pass area. 11 miles round trip, intermediate to advanced, 2,700-foot gain. Best time to go: July-October. It’s an incredible part of the Pacific Crest Trail. The forest thins as the trail gains elevation. Red Mountain fills the skyline ahead while the wildflowers color the ground. The wildflower field is known as “Kendall Gardens.” At 5.5 miles, the gardens narrow to a mere path and the path disappears onto a broad shelf on the east face of the ridge. This is the Katwalk. • Rattlesnake Dance Ridge Trail, Ellensburg basin. 2.2 miles round trip, intermediate, 1,200-foot gain. Best time to go: April-July. This is a good example of an Eastern Washington route. The trail climbs from step one and doesn’t let up until it reaches the top of the ridge. You’re hiking on a sagebrush-and-desert-grass ridge. There are great views downstream into the Yakima Canyon. You may even run into bighorn sheep. • Thorpe Mountain, Snoqualmie Pass corridor (east). 9 miles round trip, intermediate to advanced, 1,000-foot gain. Best time to go: June-October. It’s a gorgeous view with a bit of history. It goes up to an old fire lookout station. You go through some great wildflower meadows and pine forest. There are stunning views in all directions — down upon Kachess Lake to the south and southwest, Mount Daniel and Mount Hinman to the north, the Stuart Range to the far northeast, and Mount Rainier to the southwest. Take your time here. It’s a special place. • Cooper River, Snoqualmie Pass corridor (east). 6 miles round trip, intermediate, 500-foot gain. Best time to go: May-October. It’s a great, early season spring hike. It’s lower elevation so it melts out before other Cascade trails. Start from the Salmon la Sac Campground and follow Cooper River up to Cooper Lake. There’s good trout fishing in the river and the lake up above.