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Keechelus Ridge

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington

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Keechelus Ridge

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  • Leaving the parking lot at Price Creek Sno-Park.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Crossing Price Creek on Forest Road 4832.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Heading right up Forest Road 124.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Woodpecker holes.- Keechelus Ridge
  • A small cabin overlooking Keechelus Lake.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Route finding through new-growth forest.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Conifer forest below the Keechelus Ridge crest.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Radio tower on "Microwave Hill" and the Keechelus Ridge Summit (5,155').- Keechelus Ridge
  • Looking up the radio tower.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Stuart Range to the northeast.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Mount Rainier (14,411') from Keechelus Ridge.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Views north from Keechelus Ridge.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Groomed tracks on the ridge crest.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Tracing the route back down.- Keechelus Ridge
  • Keechelus Lake before sunset.- Keechelus Ridge
  • - Keechelus Ridge
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Big vistas. Easy route finding.
Cons: 
Snowmobile recreation area. Near private property.
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Region:
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Groomed trail: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,500.00 ft (762.00 m)
Parking Pass: 
Sno-Park Parking Permit (required in OR + WA 11.01 thru 04.30)
Preferable Season(s):
Winter
Total Distance: 
6.30 mi (10.14 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,544.00 ft (775.41 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Kacheelus Ridge is a gently tapered north-to-south arm that runs directly between Kacheelus and Little Kachess Lakes. Adventurers on foot tend to overlook this multi-use winter recreation area in favor of the more pristine backcountry terrain a few miles north over the Alpine Lakes Wilderness boundary line. What this route lacks in hearty forests, however, it makes up for with spectacular vistas of Mount Rainier and the rest of the Central Cascades. And if you are up to the thrill of forging your own path, it can be a great trip for novice orienteering. 

A winding snowmobile track takes you north out of the parking lot for the first 0.4 miles to a three-way junction with Forest Road 4832 near its crossing of Noble Creek. Head left and continue another 0.2 miles past signed Price Creek and the junction with Forest Road 124. This time turn right (north) and begin up the slightly steeper grade. The road parallels Price Creek at a distance for a bit before hooking west to bring you closer to the bank. Here, 1.3 miles from the trailhead, a private property sign marks a junction with a private road forking off to the left. Stay right to either embark on the long haul up Forest Road 124, or choose to veer off into the forest alongside Price Creek. The latter option sets you on a delightful cross-country climb through powdery meadows and new-growth forest. A little over a half mile from the road, the route passes a small summer cabin with southward views of Kacheelus Lake and Mount Rainier peeking up over the hills. Resume climbing and keep to a northeast bearing by crossing over a few more traversing forest roads.

The scenery changes quite abruptly upon gaining the broad, rolling ridge. An expansive network of snowmobile tracks weave through tiny scattered tree patches and cover the land, with mountain ranges rising up in every direction beyond. Wander the open slopes to discover the best vantage points for any given horizon. The giant radio tower standing on "Microwave Hill" is a fun site to explore before coasting back down. 

Note: The Keechelus Ridge route passes near posted private property. Be alert for signs to keep within public land.

Recommended Gear

Before you head out on your next Mount Hood adventure, make sure you have the right gear! 

Here's a list of our go-to snowshoeing essentials to get you started:

Snowshoes: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

Cushioned, Made in USA, Ultralight, 98.8 oz

Men's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Jacket/Shell: Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket

Waterproof, Adjustable Drawcord Hem, Pit Zips, GORE-TEX

Men's • $431-475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Pack: Mammut Nirvana Pro Pack 

35L, Carry-On Size, Hip Belt, Ice Axe / Pole Loops, Hydration Compatible

Standard Fit • $189.95-199.95 • Mammut | Amazon | Backcountry

Small Fit • $199.95 • Mammut | Amazon

Insulating Layer: Moosejaw Dequindre Down Jacket

Water-resistant, Insulated, Adjustable Drawcord Hem

Men's and Women's • $179

Poles: Black Diamond Traverse Pole 

Aluminum, Adjustable with Lever Lock System, 21 oz.

$79.95 • Black Diamond | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Gloves: The North Face GORE-TEX Gloves

Waterproof, Adjustable, Insulated, GORE-TEX

Men's • $99.95-181.63 • The North Face | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $99.95-100.00 • The North Face | Backcountry

Boots: Vasque Snowblime UltraDry Boot

Waterproof, Cushioned, Insulated

Men's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Gaiters: Outdoor Research Verglas Gaiter 

Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight, Abrasion-resistant

Men's • $41.32-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $49.95-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Backcountry Safety

Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.

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