Hike of the Month Columbia Mountain

Columbia Mountain on the Kettle Crest should be on a hiker’s list for all seasons, but is an especially nice option for a challenging snowshoe hike in winter given its easy access from Highway 20 at Sherman Pass, maintained as a SnoPark lot in winter.

Route-finding skills and avalanche terrain awareness are necessary to complete this hike, as there is avalanche terrain in the vicinity of the trail. With proper equipment and training, Columbia Mountain can be a fantastic day hike to a restored fire lookout cabin with views along the spine of the Kettle Crest.

From the parking lot, snowshoe on Kettle Crest North 2.4 miles to a marked intersection to Columbia Mountain. Turn right and continue to climb to the Columbia Mountain Loop. Be sure to turn west at the intersection and do not plan to take the full loop, as the northeast aspect of the loop crosses into avalanche terrain. Instead, take the west half of the loop as far as the summit spur trail, and return via the same route for a hike of approximately 7 miles. For those looking for an extra challenge, Columbia is also a great introduction to winter backpacking. Camp on the summit on a clear night, or tuck into the bowl at the summit spur in the event it’s stormy.

Maps: USGS Sherman Peak 7.5 Quadrangle

The trailhead for Columbia Mountain is located on the north side of Highway 20 at Sherman Pass, 17.3 miles east of Republic and 26.2 miles west of Kettle Falls in Northeast Washington. A SnoPark permit is required.

Holly Weiler is the Eastern Washington Senior Coordinator for Washington Trails Association and enjoys camping and backpacking in all seasons, even the frigid ones!

Cover photo courtesy of Holly Weiler

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