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Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section J - Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass

Snoqualmie Region > Snoqualmie Pass
47.4278, -121.4135 Map & Directions
74.7 miles, one-way
Elevation Gain
16,000 feet
Highest Point
5,988 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Cathedral Rock. Photo by Steve Podleski. Full-size image
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Crossing through the stunning Alpine Lakes wilderness, this section is a must-do for serious Washington backpackers. This 75-mile section leads through some of the most beautiful, remote and varied surroundings along the PCT. Continue reading

  • Ridges/passes
  • Wildlife
  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Established campsites
  • Old growth
  • Fall foliage

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
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Hiking Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section J - Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass

Imagine not crossing a road for 75 miles! Backpackers who complete the Snoqualmie - Stevens segment of the Pacific Crest Trail will hike through some of the most remote and diverse mountain country along the entire 2650-mile trail.

The route traverses the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and the trail passes by a least a dozen lakes along the way, many of them swimmable in late-summer. But the lakes aren't the only attraction. Hikers here encounter meadows, old-growth  trees, and stunning views of towering mountains.

This trail is not for the beginning backpacker. There is considerable elevation gain and loss -- about 16,000 feet! Some places are impassable until well into August when the snow melts out. And the distance requires hikers to carry six or seven days of food and arrange for a car shuttle or pick-up at Stevens Pass.

Beginning from the Snoqualmie Pass trailhead, hikers plunge into the stunning high country, starting off day 1 out of this trailhead with a trek across the Kendall Katwalk. As you head further north, you may find some relative solitude, but this section is popular and accessible from both ends, so plan your outing accordingly; it may be hard to find a suitable place to camp, but please abide by Leave No Trace principles, and personify good trail etiquette. 

As you wind through lakes and high country, enjoy the views from the crest of the Cascades: lush forest to one side, high, drier country on the other. Be sure to have your camera charged -- this is the prelude to some of the most stunning scenery along the entire trail. 

It is best for hikers of this segment to pick up a map from the Pacific Crest Trail Association and buy the Pacific Crest Trail Oregon & Washington guidebook by Jeffrey Schaffer and Andy Selters published by Wilderness Press.

WTA worked here in 2022, 2021, 2019, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010!

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section J - Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.4278, -121.4135 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From Seattle drive I-90 to exit 52 (signed for Snoqualmie Pass west). At the bottom of the exit ramp, turn left (north) and cross under the freeway. In about 100 yards, turn right onto a dirt road leading into the PCT trailhead. At Stevens Pass, the PCT exits at the crest near the ski area.

More Hike Details


Snoqualmie Region > Snoqualmie Pass

Pacific Crest Trail (#2000)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Pacific Crest Trail Oregon & Washington (Jeffrey Schaffer and Andy Selters) - Wilderness Press

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail

Cascade Series - Northern Washington

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Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Section J - Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass

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