Kettle Crest Trail & Sherman Peak

Rolling hills make for a moderate hike, snowshoe, or backcountry ski tour of approximately 6 miles with 1,300 feet of elevation gain. A scenic loop trail circles Sherman Peak in the Colville National Forest in the northeast corner of Washington. The loop part of the route to Snow Peak Cabin and the start of a longer journey south on the Kettle Crest Trail. From the starting point you can also head north on the Kettle Crest Trail.

getting there

Sherman Pass

Drive 17 miles east of Republic or 20 miles west of Kettle Falls on Highway 20 to the summit of Sherman Pass, named after the Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman. Drive the short access road north of the highway to the Kettle Crest trailhead (5,575 ft). In summer, a Northwest Forest Pass is required. Winter Driving:  This is a sno-park in winter, so a Washington Sno-Park permit is required to park here from December 1 to April 30 annually. The access road can be difficult for some cars to exit in winter without tire chains or snow tires.

Kettle Crest Trail South

Drive SR 20 3.5 miles east of Sherman Pass and turn right onto Forest Road 2020 (South Fork Sherman Creek Road). Continue for 7 miles and bear right onto Forest Road 2014. Drive 4 miles and turn right onto  Forest Road Spur 250. Drive 4.2 miles to the trailhead (5,20 ft).

on the trail

sherman peak

a moderate 6-mile loop hike with 1,200 feet of elevation gain and a high point of 6,400 ft

Hike the Kettle Crest Trail south descending steeply for 0.3 miles and then ascending equally steeply back the highway. Cross the highway using caution. Note that skiers and snowshoers may wish to skip this initial short portion of the route with its steep up and down, and simply walk east along SR 20 to start the journey (the highway's shoulder is amply wide but use caution).

After crossing the highway, continue traveling south Kettle Crest Trail. The trail climbs steadily with occasional switchbacks. In ~1 mile, reach the junction with Sherman Loop Trail (No. 72). There are a placard honoring a volunteer's dedication and the official Sherman Peak Loop wooden trail sign on trees here. Note that you will be returning here to complete the loop, so it would be good to  familiarize yourself with this junction. Choose your direction, clockwise or counterclockwise, and continue traveling.

The trail rolls up and down, gradually gaining elevation until about the halfway point, when it begins descending again as you finish the loop.  The loop circles Sherman Peak, but the summit is not part of this trail. Along the way the trail offers views of the southern end of the Kettle Mountain Range and the Okanogan Highlands. The devastation wrought by a past wildfire is also still evident.

Continue on the Sherman Loop trail until you return to the junction with the Kettle Crest trail that you first encountered about a mile after the start of your journey. Take the Kettle Crest trail north, descending to SR 20,  cross the highway, and return to the trailhead.

snow peak cabin

An easy/moderate 10-mile round trip hike with 875 feet of elevation gain and a high point of 6,400 ft

Star traveling on Kettle Crest Trail south as above for the Sherman Peak loop. Skiers and snowshoers heading for Snow Peak Cabin should choose to travel counterclockwise around the west side of Sherman Peak on Kettle Crest Trail (No. 13), where they will continue south on the trail to the cabin. This is the direction of travel recommended by the Republic Ranger District to reduce avalanche risk. Note that in winter the trail junction with the Kettle Crest trail south of Sherman Peak can be difficult to find.

kettle crest Trail south

a strenuous one-way 13.5-mile hike with 2,900 feet of elevation gain and a high point of 6,923 ft

Start hiking south on the Kettle Crest Trail as above for the Sherman Peak loop. You can hike either side of the Sherman Peak loop, continuing south on the Kettle Crest Trail at the southern junction. End at the trailhead on Forest Road Spur 250. With the car shuttle, this is a very long day hike or a more relaxing two-day backpack.

Columbia Mountain Loop

7.5-mile loop with 1,400 feet of elevation gain

From the Sherman Pass parking area, take the Kettle Crest Trail (North) northbound. In approximately 2 miles you will reach the side trail that leads to Columbia Mountain. Turn right, leaving the Kettle Crest trail, and began climbing the switchbacks. A sign marks this junction. In approximately a half mile, you will reach the Columbia Mountain Loop Trail #24 which circles Columbia Mountain; a sign also marks this junction. From here, go left; going right and doing the full loop is not recommended in winter. Proceed about a quarter mile, keeping an eye out for the summit trail on the right. From here a steep climb leads you up to Columbia's summit, where you will find the restored fire lookout in an open space, which is a meadow with wildflowers in summertime. The fire lookout is open to the public and camping is allowed, but no cookstoves or fires are permitted inside or close to the fire lookout. From the summit looking south you may spot Sherman Peak and Snow Peak. To the north stands Wapaloosie Mountain. Retrace your steps to return to the parking area.


  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 5.9 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 ft
  • 6,400 ft
  • Land Manager: Colville National Forest
    Republic Ranger District (CNF)
  • Parking Permit Required: see "Getting There" section (above)
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • USGS Sherman Peak
  • USGS Edds Mtn
Trip Reports

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Sherman Peak
  • Sherman Peak Loop
  • Snow Peak Cabin
  • Kettle Crest Trail
  • Kettle Crest South
  • Kettle Crest Trail South
  • Kettle Crest Trail & Columbia Mountain
  • Columbia Mountain
  • Columbia Mountain Loop
  • Kettle Crest North
  • Kettle Crest Trail North

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