Dog Friendly Backpacking Trip: Snoqualmie Pass to Chikamin Peak

Originally, I planned to backpack all of Section J of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with my dog but had to cut our trip short due to weather and time constraints.

Instead, I set my sights on Spectacle Lake, nestled at the base of Chikamin Ridge, and 16.9 miles along the PCT from Snoqualmie Pass (one way).

We planned this backpacking trip as an out and back, for a total of almost 34 miles round trip. I know my little dog was up for it.

Chikamin Peak Trip - Starting Out

Days before our trip I hit up REI for a ton of last-minute things and spent WAY too much money. It was all stuff I needed, or at least I convinced myself that I needed.

One of the things I picked up that I did need – and that Hubby absolutely insisted upon since I would be hiking alone with Gretel – was a Garmin inReach Explorer Satellite Messenger that would allow me to stay in contact with him via text and update him on how Gretel and I were doing.

He could also follow our progress on a map because the unit also has a GPS.

So Friday morning we arrived at the trailhead, packed up, and headed up the Pacific Crest Trail toward the Kendall Katwalk.

There were no weather surprises on the way up – I knew it would be raining on us all day and we wouldn’t be able to see much.

We hiked 6 miles uphill in the rain and fog. This is the only picture I got of that part of the hike – the Kendall Katwalk in the fog.

Kendall Katwalk in the Fog

I had hiked to this point before but it was on a sunny day. The fog added a mysterious feel to it and I was actually more nervous than last time crossing this trail clinging to the side of the sheer ridge.

I am not afraid of heights so the sheer drop off didn’t bother me but the surrounding fog made it harder to get my bearings and gave me a bit of vertigo.

It’s totally safe though, I swear. The trail is very wide and there are rocks lining the outside edge of it).

My dog and I camped at Ridge and Gravel Lakes for the night, which made our hiking distance about 9 miles total for the day.

Chikamin Peak Trip - Setting Up Camp

I picked a tent spot at Ridge Lake that was on a bit of a slope so the water would run off and not settle under the tent if it rained all night… which it did.

I set up Gretel on her camp bed with her camp blanket and the freeloader watched me to all the work to set up camp.

It was a bit windy that night. I could hear the wind blowing through the treetops like a freight train but our tent was sheltered so we only felt the wind shake the tent a few times.

We got a good 12 hours of sleep. I packed up all of our stuff and hit the trail the next morning as the sun was coming out.

Chikamin Peak Trip - Hitting the Trail Day 2
Chikamin Peak Trip - Valley View

We hiked back past Edds Lake and around Joe Lake to the trail traversing below Huckleberry Mountain.

This was the most memorable view of the hike for me. I just loved the view.

It’s here where I have to pause to warn you about this trail. The views are amazing. However, it is NOT a place to go if you want to be left alone with only your thoughts and the sound of the wilderness.

The trail to Kendall Katwalk starts at Snoqualmie Pass and Interstate 90. You can hear the roar of traffic for most of the way up to the Kendall Katwalk. Once that sound dissipates, it is replaced with something else.

Also, the military often practices flying fighter jets in the mountains.

I’m talking the super loud, sonic fighter jets and I am talking often.

I had seen one or two up there before on a day trip but I would say there was one flying nearby approximately every two hours (thankfully they didn’t fly at night).

On this trip, I was standing at the pass looking up at Huckleberry Mountain, a fighter jet came screaming by just over my head. Seriously, I felt like I was able to look the pilot in the eye.

I normally get a little disgruntled when my solitude was disrupted but it was such a cool experience that I shrugged it off.

A 10 lb Dachshund hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to Chikamin Peak
Chikamin Peak Trip - Huckleberry Mountain
Huckleberry Mountain. You can see the trail traversing below it if you look close.
Chikamin Peak Trip - In the Saddle

Anyway, we made it a bit past Chikamin Peak and stopped for lunch. Even though there were still some high clouds, the views were amazing.

Until the fog and wind moved in that is.

It suddenly got bitterly cold – to the point where I started to reconsider if hiking in these temperatures was safe for my small dog (it was certainly uncomfortable for me).

Chikamin Peak and Huckleberry Mountain
Chikamin Peak and Huckleberry Mountain

As I waited for my hubby to report the mountain forecast to me (via the satellite messenger), my face started to hurt a little and my fingers got really cold.

The mountain weather forecast had changed and it looked like we would be in for a cold, miserable night.

We headed back to Ridge and Gravel Lakes to camp again. I if I had known we would turn around, I would have left my tent up and opted not to carry my big backpack!

Not knowing if we would have tree cover at Spectacle Lake, or how sheltered from the wind we would be, I chickened out.

I decided right there, with my fingers frozen and my nose dripping from the chill, that we would turn back to Ridge Lake.

We hiked back through the beautiful Chikamin Pass, where we ran into a couple of thru-hikers heading toward Canada to finish the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail (it runs from the Mexican Border to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington).

Chikamin Peak - Gretel's lunch Spot
Pacific Crest Trail - Mountain Saddle
Chikapin Pass - Saddle Lakes
Chikamin Peak - Gretel

We hiked back along the ridge past Joe Lake.

Pacific Crest Trail - Joe Lake and Gretel

From Ridge Lake to where we stopped and back was about 10 miles round trip.

It was a very long day but my little dog Gretel did great. Me on the other hand? My hips were getting sore from my pack and I started to get a pain in my foot.

We got back to Ridge lake just before dark.

The camp spot we used the night before was taken, as were most of them at the lake since it was a Saturday night and that is a busy trail, so we took one of the last campsites at the end of the lake trail.

I was too tired, and it was way too cold, to spend time heating up water for dinner so I choked down a snack bar, set up the tent, and we passed out.

As we did the night before, we slept for about 12 hours. It took some time for me to fall asleep because it was so cold – I was shivering a bit despite wearing long underwear, socks, a light down jacket and having a little doggie heater snuggled next to me – but Gretel had no problems getting some shuteye.

Camping with Dogs - Gretel Snuggled in the Tent

The next morning we woke to find everything covered with frost.

Camping with Dogs - Ridge Lake Mice Lookout

After breakfast, I snuggled Gretel in her little nest while I packed up camp.

Camping with Dogs - Gretel's Camp Nest

After a nice chat with strangers that had camped next to us, we headed back toward the trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass.

I feel kind of like a wimp for cutting our trip short but, although I knew it would be cold, I wasn’t prepared for quite how cold it was.

I’m not a super experienced backpacker, and had never backpacked in the mountains with my dog that late in the season, so a lot of lessons were learned on this trip.

Trail Selfie - Kendall Katwalk

Unlike the when we hiked the Kendall Katwalk on the way up, it was sunny and clear.

I hiked to the Kendall Katwalk one other time and one of my favorite views was of Red Mountain just before you get to the Katwalk (or just after if you were heading the direction we were).

Red Mountain - Pacific Crest Trail

Although it was clear and sunny when I had hiked the Kendall Katwalk earlier in the summer, there were clouds on the horizon. The women I hiked with said Mt. Rainier was visible in the distance on a clear day.

I got the privileged of seeing it on this hike. You can see it to the right of the big trees (as is usual, this picture absolutely does not do it justice).

View of Mt. Rainier from the Kendall Katwalk Trail

Our total backpacking trip distance, adding in the bit of backtracking we did and side trails we explored, totaled 28 miles in three days.

I highly recommend this trail for someone looking to take a dog-friendly backpacking trip.

We saw a couple of other dogs on the trail (but Gretel was the smallest) and they were clearly enjoying it.

The views are pretty amazing and there are a good number of camp spots.

I’m still trying to decide if I want train myself and my dog to thru-hike the entire 72 mile J Section of the Pacific Crest Trial, from Snoqualmie to Stevens Pass, in the future.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


    1. Hi Vickie. I received your well intentioned comment on my other blog post scolding me too and wrote this blog post in response: You obviously have not read it so please do before you judge. You also obviously have not been following my blog for long (and that is ok). I can tell because you are clearly not aware of how well I take care of my dogs, how much and often they hike with me, how much they enjoy it, and that the MISSION of my blog is break stereotypical beliefs of people like yourself. Small dogs, including Dachshunds, are capable of much more than people give them credit for and that has led to an epidemic of pet obesity. Dachshunds specifically, are scent hounds that were bred to hunt badgers and other small game. They are built for sporting and “covering ground” on outings. While it is true that dogs that live a sedentary life should not rush right out and hike for long distances, if they are healthy and physically trained for it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing so.

  1. What beautiful scenery, breathtaking to see Mount Rainier! I’ve enjoyed your adventure, it’s too bad you had to turn back, but if you are cold then you are miserable. Gretel looks like she loved every minute!

  2. Hi, just found your blog and I have been enjoying it very much, I have three dachsunds that keep me on my toes.

  3. Nice hike! If i’m feeling cold just hiking, there’s always the thought in the back of my mind of going back. When you get into backpacking in cold weather, sometimes it’s better safe than sorry!

    Also, aren’t dogs amazing at heating up a tent!

    1. Hi Chris! I usually err on the side of caution but it’s ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT to do so when you are out hiking alone. I’m sure you understand that 🙂

  4. I grew up just southwest of there and remember more than one camping trip where Pepper our Wiener dog came along. Thanks for the beautiful photos that brought back some good memories from years ago.

    LB Johnson in Chicago

  5. I think it is always smart to use caution and shorten a trip if the weather or your physical condition cause you concerns. I commend your courage since ‘ve not yet felt brave enough to do a solo backpack trip with my dogs. Awesome trip!

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