SEA: Day Hike on the PCT – Kendall Katwalk

Thanks to Mappy Hour Seattle member Christy for sharing one of her favorite local hikes with us for Seattle’s Map of the Month.

This hike to Kendall’s Katwalk can be long as a day hike (12+ miles round trip) but has immense payoffs with the excellent views. The “katwalk” is found where the trail narrows to a thin ridge, featuring steep rocky slopes along either side of the path. This trail is also the first part of Section J of the Pacific Crest Trail just north of Snoqualmie Pass and so is frequented by thru-hikers. Although this hike is long, the gain is constant and gradual making it approachable for different skill levels.

Kendall Katwalk Day Hike from SEattle

For a day hike, Christy recommends a 12-14 mile out and back that takes you along the ridge, over Kendall Katwalk and to views of Ridge Lake. 

On a cool morning in September, my hike started with some fog over the old growth forest and surrounding hills.  Depending on the summer season, you may also find wild flowers still blooming such as the fireweed seen in the foreground of the right photo below.

The old growth forest at the first portion of the hike is part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area and features tall trees covered in moss, which add to the eerie ambiance on a foggy morning. As the trail emerges from the trees, you will find an exposed, rocky trail along a steep rock face, offering views of Lundin Peak, Red Mountain and possibly Mount Rainier. If you hear what appears to be screaming or an emergency whistle while crossing the exposed portion of the trail, be on the lookout for marmots who are known for their screams. Pikas also frequent the area along with many birds and hawks.

Pro tips for the Kendall Katwalk Day Hike

  • Get to the trailhead early to ensure a space in the parking lot.  We began hiking at 8:30 and the parking lot was starting to get pretty full.
  • Go bold, go cold! Even though the start of the trail is through forest which is shady and quite cool, the trail becomes exposed later and much hotter. Make sure to bring layers.
  • If you have extra time, continue on the trail further to see Ridge Lake for lunch and turnaround, or better yet (if you don’t suffer from vertigo and there is not a crowd) have your lunch up by the Katwalk!
  • If you need an extra challenge, you can add a scramble up to Kendall Peak

Driving Directions to Kendall Katwalk Trail from Seattle

The trailhead is located on the north side of I-90 at exit, just off forest road.  The road is easily accessible by all vehicles and a Northwest Forest Pass (or equivalent) is required. There is a fairly large parking lot and vault toilet available at the trailhead.  More details about this hike can be found at the WTA website here.

Map of the Month

We’re teaming up with Gaia GPS to create new itineraries for you to enjoy every month!

They’re also hooking us up with one month for free – which you can redeem using this link: (And if you like it head to to get 25% off an annual GAIA GPS subscription).