Lake Kachess

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 climb.

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 the descent.

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 another break.

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.


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Trips - 2007