Kim and I planned a cross country ski trip. We were
looking for something close to Snoqualmie Pass but not overly crowded and
with some easy terrain. The Lake Kachess Sno-Park has lots of snowmobiles
but not that many skiers. Most of the snowmobiles zoom out in the morning
and don't come back until later in the day. The road up Box Canyon to the
Rachel Lake trailhead is too short to interest the machines and makes an easy
tour for skiers. We headed out of town at 7:30. The road from the Lake Kachess
exit was all packed down snow. Easy driving though it was slicker on the
way out. At the sno-park we found half a dozen vehicles. Several were snow
covered from the day before.
The road had been freshly groomed for snowmobiles. There were some machine
tracks but also most of the grooves from grooming were still showing. The
road is gentle with a number of ups and downs. The total elevation change
to the state park is only a few hundred feet at most. At 1 1/2 miles the road
reaches the intersection with the park entrance We turned left and began to
The only real hill on the route is here. The road turns to the right as
it works its way higher. In about 1/4 mile another intersection is reached.
Almost all the snowmobiles go left for a long tour all over Keechelus Ridge.
We turned right. There were a few snowmobiles at the intersection and two
of them headed our way. The few machines that went this way did pack down
the snow nicely.
We had a nice easy descent down to Box Creek. The sky was overcast all day
but we managed to avoid any precipitation. This elevation here is only 2450'
so rain is often a real possibility. The snowmobiles soon passed us on their
way out. As I expected it was pretty quiet in Box Canyon as we were the only
two groups there this day. We continued on about two miles from the intersection.
We were about 2 miles from the Rachel Lake trailhead. The snow off the side
of the road was 6-8 inches deep on top of a hard crust. We just stopped and
sat along the side of the road for a lunch break.
The creek was along side but it was a vertical drop of 15 feet or so to
get down to it. After a nice break it was time to head on back. There were
a number of large icicles hanging high above the road. Of course we had to
stop for some photos. The climb back uphill is very gentle and soon we were
back at the intersection. The drop back down is moderately steep and with
good snow is a fun run. We had very good snow.
KIm has not had much experience on cross country skis so it was a little
more exciting for her. Part way down I went ahead and with the turns and snowmobile
made moguls it was a fun ride. I was surprised to make it down on my feet.
I headed back up again and met Kim. She had taken her skis off and walked
when I left but was back on skis when I returned. She did pretty well on
Back at the last intersection we went straight ahead into the park. There
were a few snowmobiles here but they soon left. We met two skiers with dogs
along here. They were the only skiers we saw all day. I did look back and
see two snowshoers well behind us. A tour around the campgrounds is a good
tour in its own right for beginners. We headed over to the lake shore for
Unlike Lake Keechelus, Kachess is almost ice free. We had a nice view down
the lake and to the peaks beyond. One lone Camp Robber Jay kept us company.
After the single digit cold of the weekend before it was down right balmy
this day. It was right around 32 degrees most of the day. We had a nice long
stay along the lake shore before starting our return. The trip back has a
bit more uphill than down but is pretty easy skiing. A number of snowmobiles
passed us on their way back but were all very courteous.
By the time we returned there were only 4 or 5 vehicles left in the sno-park.
We saw some snowshoe tracks along the road but they left after us and returned
before us. This is actually a nice tour. If you arrive early you can avoid
most of the snowmobiles. There is only 1 3/4 miles each way where you are
likely to see them. The avalanche danger all the way to the Rachel Lake trailhead
is almost nil. There is one fun hill but otherwise it is all gentle terrain.
With our detour through the campgrounds we covered about 8 miles on the day
with 600' of elevation gain. Overall, it was a nice day to be skiing.