Gravel Lake - Ridge Lake, Pacific Crest Trailhead, Seattle: Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass - Central Cascades, Washington
Gravel Lake - Ridge Lake - 15.2 miles
Pacific Crest Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||15.2 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||3,000’ – 5,195’ (5,407’ max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,195’ net elevation gain (+3,305’ total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Gravel Lake - Ridge Lake - 15.2 Miles Round-Trip
Gravel Lake is located 7.6 miles from the Pacific Crest Trailhead, just off Exit 52 on I-90 west of Snoqualmie Pass. The Pacific Crest Trail follows a challenging, sinuous route through old growth forests, high peaks and across Kendall Katwalk to a high camp between Gravel and Ridge lakes.
The trail begins on a mild grade through hemlock, devil’s club and vine maple to a switchback at .6 miles (3,230’). It rises steadily with partial views of Snoqualmie ski area and Granite Mountain to a pair of switchbacks heading NE toward Commonwealth Basin (1.4 - 1.7 miles : 3,690').
The forest opens with views of Guye Peak, Lundin and Red Mountain to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness boundary (2.0 miles : 3,832'), and drops gently to the Commonwealth Creek Trail split (2.6 miles : 3,774'). It climbs past the junction to a switchback heading south (3.0 miles : 3,975’), and across open slopes into a mature fir-hemlock forest on the SW shoulder of Kendall Peak (4.0 miles : 4,463’).
The trail scales two more switchbacks directly under Kendall Peak (5.6 miles and 5,114’) and crosses a red 'mini Katwalk' with views of Red Peak and beyond (6.1 miles : 5,380’).
It continues east past a notch in the ridge with a good look at Kendall Peak’s north-facing “shooting gallery” couloirs (6.2 miles : 5,385’). The trail rolls past a couple more notches to Kendall Katwalk, a narrow path blasted into solid white granite (6.6 miles : 5,370’).
Catch your breath and concentrate across this vertigo-inducing segment. Once over it continues on a high, airy ridge that rounds onto a talus slope for the final 250' descent to the saddle between Gravel and Ridge Lakes (7.6 miles : 5,195').
There are many established campsites on the saddle - avoid camping on heather. The horn of Mt. Thompson is visible above the ridge, and Alaska Lake is in view below Ridge Lake to the east.
- N47 25.672 W121 24.802 — 0.0 miles: Pacific Crest Trailhead - 3,000'
- N47 25.422 W121 24.289 — 0.6 miles: Climb past first switchback - 3,230'
- N47 25.729 W121 24.401 — 1.0 miles: Continue climbing to 2nd and 3rd switchbacks - 3,405'
- N47 25.789 W121 24.336 — 1.7 miles: Round third switchback - head northeast - 3,690'
- N47 26.007 W121 24.186 — 2.0 miles: Views of Guye, Snoqualmie, Lundin and Red - 3,832'
- N47 26.367 W121 23.830 — 2.6 miles: Drop to Commonwealth Creek Trail split - 3,774'
- N47 26.642 W121 23.591 — 3.0 miles: Climb to open space under Kendall Peak - 3,975'
- N47 26.266 W121 23.632 — 3.5 miles : Ascend south under Kendall Peak - 4,207'
- N47 25.988 W121 23.871 — 4.0 miles : Reach NW shoulder of Kendall Peak - 4,463'
- N47 26.052 W121 23.415 — 4.7 miles : Ascend ridge through forest - 4,750'
- N47 26.200 W121 23.083 — 5.1 miles : Pass from forest ridge to open slopes - 4,854'
- N47 26.600 W121 23.262 — 6.0 miles: Head toward final switchbacks below Kendall Peak
- N47 26.794 W121 23.124 — 6.1 miles: Cross red mini-Katwalk with overlook - 5,380'
- N47 27.126 W121 22.708 — 6.6 miles: Cross narrow Kendall Katwalk - 5,370'
- N47 27.451 W121 22.193 — 7.3 miles: Traverse talus and descend to lakes
- N47 27.732 W121 22.038 — 7.6 miles: Gravel & Ridge Lakes - 5,195'
- The Kendall Katwalk is a narrow track blasted through solid rock on a precipitous cliff – do not attempt if snow is present.
- Several trails lead away from or into the main PCT track in the vicinity of the trailhead. The first spur to the right at the picnic table leads to Commonwealth Campground. The second, coming in from the left, is the connector trail to the overflow lot. The third gravelly overgrown trail heading left from the main trail is an unmaintained trail up Commonwealth Creek.
- This area is open to hunting and hikers should exercise caution during hunting season. Wear bright clothing and make your presence known.
Camping and Backpacking Information
The Commonwealth Campground is located just beyond the PCT trailhead from the lower lot. A few yards beyond the bulletin board, go right at the picnic table (signed) instead of left for the PCT.
- An overnight Wilderness Permit must be filled out at the TH and carried for the duration of your trip in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Max group size is 12.
- Fires are not permitted above 4,000' anywhere on this trail segment, including Gravel Lake and Ridge Lakes.
- Camp only at established sites at Gravel Lake and Ridge Lakes. A privy is available at the lake.
- Fishing is allowed with a valid WA state fishing license.
- Contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for more information.
Sport/Commercial Licenses: 360.902.2434
Disability Licenses: 360.902.2460
Rules and Regulations
- A Northwest Forest Pass or $5 fee is required at this trailhead.
- A free day use or overnight Wilderness Permit must be filled out at the TH and carried for the duration of your trip in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
- Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Directions to Trailhead
The northbound Pacific Crest Trailhead is located just off Exit 52 on I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass.
From I-90, take exit 52 (signed West Summit) and turn left off the ramp. Cross beneath I-90 and just beyond, take a right at the sign for the Pacific Crest Trailhead. A spur to the left leads to overflow and stock parking; continue ahead for the main lot and trailhead.
The main and overflow parking lots hold 120 cars combined. A privy is available.
Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest | Snoqualmie Ranger District
902 SE North Bend Way, Bldg 1
North Bend, WA 98045
Reference Trail #2000