The Kettle Crest Trail is a furrific destination for pups and people looking for a backpacking trip through Washington’s gorgeous Kettle River Range! The 31-mile out-and-back stretch is part of the larger Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail, and there’s plenty of spectacularly scenic routes that branch off the main path, as well as many trailheads, so a vacation here can be as long or as short as you please. The closest trailhead to Seattle is at Sherman Pass, where there’s plenty of free parking, though capacity varies along the other trailheads. You’ll find camping at Sherman Pass, Kettle Crest, and Copper Butte, and dispersed camping is permitted along the route. Though the route is fairly well-known, the sheer length means that it’s never quite crowded, and at points, the area feels completely untouched by humanity.
Mountain peaks, valley views, fields of wildflowers, sage-brush meadows and wooded wonderland -- Kettle Crest really does have it all! The trek features some of the most spectacular scenery that eastern Washington has to offer, and that’s really saying something. You’ll also be surrounded by berry bushes in the right season, but be sure that you know what you’re picking before you forage! The woods are teeming with wildlife, so keep an eye on your pooch if they have a tendency to tear after bunny rabbits (other wildlife concerns are detailed in the Cautions and Considerations section).
Kettle Crest is a true wilderness trail, so facilities are pretty limited, though some campsites do have primitive toilets. There are tapped springs along the route, but some of the area is in cattle-farming land -- if you do decide to chance it, be sure to filter the water carefully. In terms of accessibility, this trail should not be attempted by beginners -- though most of the slopes are gradual, there are a few steep inclines, particularly around Copper Butte. Be sure to bring enough provisions, and enjoy everything the Kettle Crest Trail has to offer!