Climb Mt. Daniel via the Southeast Ridge

Cathedral Pass Trailhead, Ronald, Washington, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    16 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    6000 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Swimming Hole

World-Class Alpine Scenery. 6000 feet of elevation gain. Distance: 16 miles round trip.

Far from the iconic skyline of Seattle, on King County's Eastern boundary, is a lesser known natural skyscraper named Mt. Daniel. At 7960 feet plus, Mt. Daniel's true summit effortlessly juts into the sky as King County's tallest point.

From Roslyn, head North for roughly 15 miles on Salmon La Sac Road then veer right where the pavement ends onto Cle Elum Valley Rd (FS 4330) for an additional 10 miles. Find readily available parking at the road's abrupt terminus at the Cathedral Pass Trailhead (Elevation 3100 feet). Hike mellow switchbacks for 1.8 miles through healthy old growth forests until topping out on a broad ridge (Elevation 4400 feet). At a trail junction, continue right onto Trail 1345 towards Squaw Lake and Cathedral Rock. Pass Squaw Lake shortly on your left (excellent camping) and then gain altitude steadily as you meander through meadows and past unnamed tarns. After 2.7 miles and gaining your first jaw-dropping view of Cathedral Rock, you'll reach yet another junction at 5600 feet. Here you'll traverse leftward again for a scant mile to Peggy's Pond (Also at about 5600 feet). If backpacking Peggy's Pond would be an exemplary, yet often somewhat buggy, area to make camp with Cathedral Rock looming overhead.

Please note, that the maintained trail ends at Peggy's Pond and the rest of the route will require some route finding skills and scrambling know-how. From Peggy's Pond ascend braided cat-trails West through alpine meadows to gain the immense Southeast Ridge. Once atop the ridge the views open up near and far with lakes below and notable Cascade Peaks on the horizon. The ridge narrows as you trend placidly westward high above the Hyas Creek Glacier on your right and Circle Lake far below on your left. You'll soon reach an encroaching rock outcrop, complete with magnificent gendarmes, as you begin to ascend now more steeply. Follow the often-faint climber's path through numerous Class 2 and 3 scrambles until you emerge on the other side of the outcropping at a saddle below the East Summit of Mt. Daniel. Skirt below the East Summit through scree and talus to gain a sizable saddle between the East and Middle Summits at roughly 7600 feet. From the saddle follow the easiest route westward to obtain a broad shoulder below the Middle Summit. The "true summit" or West Summit now becomes visible. Follow a readily discernible climber's path across the extensive sloping southwestern shoulder of Mt. Daniel towards the summit block. Make a short Class 2 Scramble clock-wise and reach the true summit of Mt. Daniel at 7960 feet plus.

Congratulations, you are now the tallest person in King County, Washington! Now relax while soaking in the awe-inspiring views of Venus, Spade, and Pea Soup lakes glistening well below you or gaze out at the distant summits of Mt. Rainier, Glacier Peak, Mt. Stuart, Cashmere Peak, Mt. Maude, just to name a few amidst a seemingly endless parade of craggy Cascade peaks. Before heading back to camp or your car take a moment to make your mark in the summit log. Descend by retracing the route of your ascent.

Pack List

Mt. Daniel as a day hike:
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • An ice ax / crampons (early to mid-season)
  • Squaw Lake, Peggy's Pond, or at a bivouac site along the Southeast Ridge
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Other overnight necessities in addition to the aforementioned equipment
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Overall rating: 

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Depending on the time of year and amount of snow left, you get to use a great mixture of skills. Ice axes and crampons are needed for safe travel (even up until mid to late July this year) and class 3 scrambling towards the top. Great views especially of Rainier in the distance!

7 months ago
7 months ago

Hey Gavin. Yes, I have done this climb... What's up?

over 3 years ago
over 3 years ago

Nathan, have you done this hike/ scramble?

over 3 years ago
over 3 years ago

Nathan Wall

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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