One Night Wonders: Mileage Monsters, Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass
Gobble the PCT's tastiest morsel.
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Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass
Pacific Crest Trail, WA
Thru-hikers rank the roadless 56.7-mile* span of the PCT between Snoqualmie and Stevens Passes as the wildest, prettiest stretch of the entire trail. Most do it in a week, but fastpackers can earn the views in two (giant) days. From US 2, climb to meadows and ridgelines offering air-balloon views over three lakes. Nibble huckleberries (ripe in late summer) near Hope Lake, ford the streams feeding the Cle Elum River (diciest on July afternoons; check USFS reports), and scale 5,610-foot Cathedral Pass before plunging 2,000 feet to Waptus Lake. Camp near the junction with Spade Lake Trail, 28.5 miles in. Day two’s views help dispel any soreness: A big climb to the Escondido Tarns and an extended ridgewalk reveal the snow-dotted Snoqualmie Crest. After more views over Alaska and Ridge Lakes, shimmy across the Kendall Catwalk before coasting down through old-growth to Snoqualmie Pass. Shorter version: At Waptus Lake, bail south to Cooper Lake. Trailhead 84 miles east of Seattle, 47.746616, -121.088348Shuttle car47.422670, -121.411999Best season Trails are snow-free by mid-August. Permit Required (free at trailheads), plus NW Forest Pass ($5/day/vehicle; 800-270-7504) Contact (360) 677-2414; fs.usda.gov/mbsTrip data backpacker.com/hikes/28758
*That’s according to our trail scouts. The PCTA lists it as 75 miles.