Climb Mt. Daniel via the Southeast Ridge

Cathedral Pass Trailhead

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
Show More
RT Distance 16 Miles
Elevation Gain 6000 Feet
Activities Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Swimming Hole


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Great Mini-Mountaineering Scramble

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!

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

Nathan, have you done this hike/ scramble?

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Backpack to Circle Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

96 Saves

Hike to Dip Top Gap

127 Saves

Trail Run to Robin Lakes

60 Saves