July 9, 2011
Location: Kachess Beacon Tr. 1315 and 1315.3
Region: Snoqualmie Pass — Snoqualmie Pass
Agency: Cle Elum Ranger District
Roundtrip 6.0 miles
Elevation Gain 2200 ft
Highest Point 4600 ft
Guide Books and Maps:
Green Trails Maps #208
NW Forest Pass Required
Current Conditions: The lower section of Tr. 1315, Kachess Ridge is very dry. It’s not until the trail levels out some that you find the first muddy spots. Mud gives way to patches of snow as you approach the junction of Tr. 1315.3, Kachess Beacon. There is also a lot of horse/mule manure on the trail due to the fact they are using mules to help install a new bridge on the Kachess Ridge Trail just after the junction. As of this report they had the runners up on the bridge but no decking.
Tr. 1315.3, Kachess Beacon has not been maintained in some time but the blow downs are manageable. It appears there’s a few new ones this season but they are small so they do not cause of an issue during your ascent to the beacon. There are a few muddy patches on this trail as well. As the season goes on they will dry up as they are due to spring run off.
On a side note, if you climb the tower on the old beacon station, be warned that the wood planks are not fixed very well. You’d be better off avoiding them and standing on the metal.
What to expect: You can expect a steep climb right out of the gate. The grade is consistent so you can find a grove if you have one. You’ll climb through dry forests with random views of the gorge containing Silver Creek. Indian Paint Brush, Salmonberry, Trillium, Lupines, and Arrowleaf Balsamroot/Mules Ear will accompany you along your hike. You’ll also see views of Mount Baldy, Domerie Peak, and Easton Ridge. At the summit you’ll have views of Mt. Rainier, the cascades and more.
Kachess Beacon Trail is littered with blow downs so be ready to scramble up and over many logs. The only draw back to this hike if you don’t count a steep start is the bugs. The mosquitoes are pretty bad. As the mountain dries out they should lessen. After your hike take a right turn instead of the left back to the highway and find a pull out accessing the lake for a nice swim. I can contests the lake is VERY cold right now.
Water Falls, Wild flowers, Lakes, and Views
Take exit 70 on I-90. After exiting, turn north over the interstate and then turn left onto the frontage road. Continue a short distance before turning right onto Kachess Dam/Forest Road 4818 (signed “Kachess Ridge and Easton Ridge”). Drive roughly 1 mile, turn right at the next road junction and continue another 0.5 mile to the trail head. This road is narrow so be warned your car might get scratched.
Get out there!