Recently I’d taken some time off from strenuous adventures after Mount Rainier so I was keen to get out into the mountains and push myself physically this week. I had a climb planned for the weekend and with some dodgy weather forecasted for the week prior I settled on a day scramble. Kaleetan Peak was an easy choice. It’s been on my radar for a while, being nice and close to Seattle and offering 360 views of some of the Snoqualmie peaks.
drive time from Seattle
Shoes with grip
NW Forest Pass
Katie was still off work and joined me for the day. We left Seattle early (6:15 am) to beat any peak hour traffic. It was nice to have a pretty short drive and we were hiking by 7:45. Due to government funding, they have closed the Denny Creek Trailhead which added an extra half mile each way to our day as we had to park in the new Franklin Falls lot. The trail leading up to Melakwa Lake is really nice. It’s obviously a popular spot so they’ve done a great job with the trail. The first half you climb through an old forest (under the freeway) crossing the river a few times. The second half gets rockier and follows a waterfall and gorge. The climbing is all gradual there are plenty of features along the trail to keep you entertained in the 4.5 miles.
We made Melakwa Lake in just under 2.5 miles where we decided to take a break for a snack by the lake. The views from the lake looking up at Chair Peak were fantastic and when I walked to the Southern end of the Lake I could see up to our destination of Kaleetan Peak. It looked so far up!
After refuelling we located the climbers trail up to Kaleetan peak. The trail just happens to go past the backcountry toilet so we made use of it. The trail heads straight up the ridge, being pretty steep and some sections requiring using the vegetation to pull ourselves up rocks. Now it really felt like a scramble! About halfway up the ridge, we cleared out of the trees to a talus slope. We got our first views of some of the peaks to the South which run along the i90. We had fun pointing out the ones we’d climbed already. (Granite, Bandera, Defiance).
The boot path was super clear, even across the talus and there were cairns to follow when in doubt. The wildflowers in this section were in full bloom providing a nice kaleidoscope of colours. We made quick work of the climb to the peak at 5700′. Here there’s a big rock pile indicating it’s the summit and we took a chance to catch our breath before continuing.
Just along the trail, we got a great view up to the summit of Kaleetan Peak. From this angle, being below it, the scramble looked steep and terrifying. We hoped that all the trip reports we’d read saying it looks much worse than it is was right. The trail we followed now dropped in elevation down the east side of the ridge to skirt some rugged terrain. The drop-down was very steep and we had to veggie belay often. Next, it traversed some talus slopes before climbing towards the summit up a trail in the vegetation that ran between talus fields. Before we knew it we were at the base of the summit block looking back at the point where we thought the climb looked terrifying. The final climb up the summit block went up some large ledges through a gully to the top. There was plenty of loose rock in the gully so I was glad to have a helmet just to protect from rockfall.
The views from the summit were just as spectacular as I’d hoped. We had about 30 minutes admiring the peaks, naming them, finding new ones to climb. We ate lunch and signed the summit register. There were great views down to gem and snow lake which I’m hoping to explore soon.
The trip back was uneventful, we were tired and the weather started to close in. We saw a few people heading up to Melakwa lake as we were on the way down. As we passed under the freeway for the final mile the weather finally changed and the rain started. I was glad we missed most of it so managed to be relatively dry by the time we made it back to the car.