Kendall Peak Lakes Ski (or Snowshoe)

On the way to Kendall Peak Lakes.

Andrea Imler

When I don’t want to drive for hours, but want to get out in the North Cascades’ winter wilderness wonderland on my cross-country skis, I head to Kendall Peak Lakes.

I’m also a sucker for working for your views (and the quick ride down)!

Kendall Peak Lakes is a challenging ski, with a steady uphill gain of 1,700 feet in 4.5 miles. It also makes for a nice snowshoe. In fact, there were more ‘shoers than skiers heading up the trail on New Year’s Day.

The trail is an old roadbed, starting off at the Gold Creek Sno-Park. Easy to follow, the road winds its way up, with spotty views out to Rampart Ridge and Gold Creek valley, the Snoqualmie Ski Area and Mount Catherine.

Cross-country skiiing in the North Cascades.

At around 3.5 miles, the trail nears Coal Creek at a switchback in the road. Here is where the snowshoers in the group can head off-trail northward with a direct approach to the lakes, while the cross-country skiers can stick to the road, eventually topping out on the ridgetop and continuing to the left (northward) to meet the skiers.

Views of Kendall Peak are stunning as you near the lake. Lunch at the lower lake is nice, but for more views continue following the old road up to a bench on the ridge where you’ll have views out to Rampart Ridge and Gold Creek valley below.

Trip Notes:

  • Gold Creek Sno-Park is very popular on the weekends. If you can make the trip mid-week, do so!
  • Travel to the upper lake is discouraged due to the lake being in an avalanche-prone cirque.
  • Don’t forget the 10 Essentials (plus my 11th winter essential – a thermos with your choice of hot beverage!) and a Sno-Park Permit.

For more information about this trip and driving directions, check out Washington Trails Association