French Kiss Loop

Near the Beaten Path

On a cool, cloudy “Junuary” day, Kelly and I went east of Snoqualmie Pass for a trail loop on Kachess Ridge. Kachess Ridge is a moderately high area between Lake Kachess and Cle Elum Lake. Neither of us had explored this area, but it used to hold the famous “Needles” race and it was only an hour from our home in Issaquah, so it seemed like the closest place we could get some nicer weather.

It was nearly noon when we pulled up, so the little parking lot was full, but we found parking a little bit down the road. We began by climbing up to Para Point. There was a strong west wind and the cool temperatures were greatly appreciated.

A tiger lily.
I had never seen this flower before!
Kelly overlooking Lake Kachess at a windy spot.

The trail up to Para Point was super steep! We definitely should have brought poles but did not do enough research to realize how steep all these trails are.

Straight up!
Some nice pinks.

There were quite a few hikers coming down from Mt. Baldy, but we headed the other way north along Kachess Ridge from Para Point. The trail drops aggressively in places, making for slow, loose descents. There are some views during this section, but it is mostly in the trees. We were not very stoked during this section.

Stuart and Cle Elum Lake.

As we got closer to French Cabin, there were more open sections and pleasant views along the ridge. The trail still had frequent steeps and blowdowns though. Once we got over our expectations of fast, runnable trails, we were able to enjoy the beautiful day and quiet trails.

Kelly running for the camera.
The real feels.
Some nice flowers and Cle Elum Lake.
Balsamroots and Stuie.

After turning left at the junction to French Kiss, the trail became nearly non existent! I obviously had overestimated the traffic this area sees. I figured that the existence of a race on these trails would mean continued popularity, but it is in definite need of some love.

Lupine along the way.
Views of the crest from the summit of French Kiss.
French Kiss!

There was a loose descent followed by an insanely steep ascent over the next ridge, before we finally got down to the Silver Creek Trail.

Beautiful, lush hillside.
One of the nicer sections of trail.

Once we reached the Silver Creek Trail, we thought we were home-free. Although this trail receives much more traffic, it still had dozens of blowdowns, creek crossings, and was a bit rocky and loose. Kelly’s legs were real tired from all the steep descents at this point, so we took it easy. But the surprisingly lush valley held the best display of trilliums we have ever seen.

So many trilliums!

Finally we dropped out of the hanging valley and began our final descent to the car. From the Baldy turnoff to the end, we did not see a single other person!

The Kachess Ridge region was fun to explore. It surprised us both with its ruggedness and wild nature, despite being so close to I90. While it might not be the most epic or runnable terrain, it offers an adventurous experience very close to the beaten path!


  • Our loop was about 13 miles and 5k ft gain.
  • There is no water until you reach Silver Creek, so it is best done on a cool day like this.
  • Do not expect runnable trails or quick times here. The ascents and descents are wickedly steep and often loose. There were a fair amount of blowdowns, but not too bad.
  • I would bring poles next time!

7 thoughts on “French Kiss Loop”

    1. Cool! That road makes sense if you’re trying to get to the peaks faster. They look like pretty good scrambles.

  1. Love the flower photos!

    It was a fun coincidence that you noted the orange honeysuckle flower as something you had never seen before. I grew up with that kind commonly growing wild in northern Idaho and I was asking my partner today on an evening walk about some new-to-me white flowers in our neighbors yard that turned out to be a different honeysuckle. She had never seen the orange ones either and I never knew other colors existed!

  2. Hi Kyle – Sort of getting back into trail running and stumbled across your page here while looking into a Deer Park area hike. Great resource here, thank you! My favorite trail runs are usually solo and more off the beaten path (at least as trail runs), and I appreciate seeing some new ideas here. Thanks!

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