PCT Section J, Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass

My hiking partner “Big Boots” and I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail about 65-70 miles from Stevens Pass on US 2 to Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 in Washington.

I had heard from PCT thru hikers that this was one of the best sections of the Mexico-Canada long trail. We were not at all disappointed.

The wildflower hike from Stevens Pass south on day 1 was our first treat, along with a nice campsite at Deception Lakes.

Cathedral Pass

As we ascended to our day 2 camp at Cathedral Pass, the views kept getting better.

Camping at Cathedral Pass offers 360 degree views including the peaks of the Enchantments

The “dangerous creek crossing” of the Cle Elum River was low enough at 11:00 am to rock-hop the first channels and wade the final one in knee-deep fast water. On the morning of day 3 we had excellent views of Mt. Daniel and Mt. Hinman from the trail near the turnoff for Peggy’s Pond.

It was a heat wave and this was the hottest day. We swam in the Waptus River and skipped Escondido Pass. Hikers were bailing out left and right because of the heat (and heat exhaustion). We heard of four in one day, two of whom had to be helped back to the road.

We found the campsite on Waptus Pass for night 3. We hiked on day 4 past Pete Lake, Lanham Meadows, Delate Creek falls and footbridge, to camp at Spectacle Lake.

Spectacle Lake

Spectacle Lake camp with a red sunset due to weather and wildfire haze moving in

Is it spectacular? Hiking uphill through the burn on a hot day certainly wasn’t. Delate Falls were nice. Spectacle Lake has a great marketing name that attracts crowds, who can be there in a day from the Pete Lake trailhead.

The lake is different, not the usual alpine lake ringed with trees and brush. It’s a big lake, bifurcated by a peninsula where most people camp.

Spectacle Lake is very popular, full on weekends, and nice to swim in. Our one night of rain happened there. We camped 2 nights on the tip of the peninsula, explored the lakeshore and relaxed.

Day 6 we hiked across Chikamin Peak to Ridge Lake and Gravel Lake. Ridge Lake is nice swimming.

Kendall Katwalk

Kendall Katwalk

Day 7 we hiked the horse-friendly, hiker-endless switchbacks from Kendall Katwalk to the PCT North trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass.

We met several nobo thrus on that day. We enjoyed conversations with most of them. Though we didn’t hike from Mexico to Canada ourselves, at least we can be cool by association.

Our rides weren’t there yet, so we walked over to Summit Inn for hot food and beer.

Overall we tried to keep our days to 10 miles plus 4,000 feet, or the equivalent thereof. For PCT trailhead transportation, our spouses dropped us off at Stevens Pass and met us at Snoqualmie Pass.

We carried a Spot X and left instructions for how to pick us up at various bail-out points (Hyas, Waptus, Pete), but that wasn’t necessary for us. We hiked the section, sweated the climbs in the heat, and had a terrific time!

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