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Sport Specific > Climbing-Rock > I90 Hikes

Suggested Hikes Along the I-90 Corridor

The following are arranged in order from least to most elevation gained. Pay attention to any warnings. For more detailed route information, see source book indicated (we've shortened the descriptions substantially to give you the highlights, sneak peeks, and trailhead locations). Many off-season will require familiarity with snow travel; take an ice axe and snowshoes with you and remember the rest of the 10 essentials!

SOURCE LAKE, 3800 ft. Elevation gain 700'. Drive I-90 to Exit 52 at Snoqualmie Pass and go left 2 miles on the Alpental road through the ski area and subdivision to the first of several ski parking lots and trailhead at 3100'. Take the trail through the forest and at the first junction (Source or Snow Lake sign) keep going straight on the climber's trail. This is the route toward the Tooth; beware high avalanche danger. Choice for snowshoe practice down low in the trees. (100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes, Spring, Spring and Manning, Mountaineers Books.)

SNOW LAKE, 4400 ft. Elevation gain 1300' in, 400' out. 8 miles RT. Start as for Source Lake (above) but take the upward climbing right turn at the fork, switchback a steep 1/2 mile to the saddle, at 3.5 miles, between Source Creek and Snow Lake. Be aware of avalanche conditions; the trail down to Snow Lake (on the north side of the mountain) is likely to be icy until late April, so take an ice axe or trekking poles to help with balance. (100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes, Spring, Spring and Manning, Mountaineers Books.)

MELAKWA LAKE, 4600 ft. Elevation gain 2300' 9 miles RT. Take I-90 to Exit 47. Go off on Denny Creek Road, turn right, and go 3 miles to Denny Creek Campground. Go just beyond it to a road over the river and turn left, follow it .2 mile to the road-end parking area and trailhead at 2300'. The trail passes under I-90 (quite an experience in and of itself!) and crosses the stream on a bridge at .5 miles, then again at 1 mile (2800'.) Keekwulee Falls is at 1.5 miles. The next .5 miles is switchbacks past Snowshoe Falls. At 2 miles (3500') the path flattens out, crosses the creek, and eventually switchbacks to Hemlock Pass, at 3.5 miles (4600') before dropping to the outlet of Melakwa Lake. (100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes, Spring, Spring and Manning, Mountaineers Books.)

PRATT, OLALLIE, TALAPUS LAKES, 4100 ft. Elevation gain 2300' in, 700' out. 11.5 miles RT to Pratt Lake Saddle. We were just there in January 2002, snow from the trailhead and some slippery ice patches; take an ice axe or snowshoes if you like, though with good footing you may not ever use them. Take I-90 to Exit 47, cross over the freeway, and turn wets .2 miles to the trailhead parking area at 1800'. Gain 800' the first mile, through forest, to a junction with Granite Mountain Trail. Just beyond is a creek. Turn left and sidehill upward through forest to Lookout Point, at 3 miles and 3400'. At 3.75 miles, you'll find a sign post marking side paths down to Talapus and Olallie Lakes. Continue on the main path that rounds Olallie basin. Pratt Lake trail takes you to the saddle between Pratt Mountain (a do-able scramble in winter) and other smaller peaks. (100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes, Spring, Spring and Manning, Mountaineers Books.)

MOUNT SI, 4167 ft; Elevation gain 3400'. 8 miles RT. Take one of the North Bend exits and get onto North Bend Way. Si is climbed by some 50,000 people each year. It's perhaps the best known hike for Seattleites, and heavily traveled every day. Turn onto Mt. Si Road on the east end of town. At the bridge crossing the river, a sign says "Mt. Si Trail 2-1/10 miles". Drive there, park your car in one of the four lots, and head up the trail. Stay on the main trail until you reach the meadow and overlook. Bring an ice axe for potentially icy conditions on the upper part of the trail in winter. If conditions are perfect, you should probably be able to reach the haystack in 2-2.5 hours with a fully loaded pack. You can scramble up the back side of the haystack, which is the rock summit block, but avoid it if it is wet or icy.The traditional trail up Mount Si is used by many Seattleites as a conditioner for larger peaks like Rainier, year round. You'll see a wide variety of people ranging from those in sneakers, to runners in trail shoes, to climbers with fully loaded packs. If you're seeking solitude, try another peak entirely. (100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes, Spring, Spring and Manning, Mountaineers Books.)

MCCLELLAN BUTTE, 5162 ft. Elevation gain 3700'. 9 miles RT. Drive I-90 to Exit 42, West Tinkham Road, and go right on Road 55. Cross the Snoqualmie River bridge, pass the highway workshop, and turn right in .5 miles to the trailhead parking lot at 1500'. The trail enters forest, climbs fairly steeply, and at 2200 feet, 1 mile from the trailhead, crosses a log-haul road you'll have to walk along for just a bit to get the trail on the other side. The path continues up fairly steeply (and peacefully) along a stream and, at 2.5 miles from the parking lot, crosses a steep avalanche gully (snow through June.) More switchbacks up to the south ridge of the peak at 4500'. Summit block scramble can be slippery. (55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie Pass, Manning and Spring, Mountaineers Books.)

GRANITE MOUNTAIN, 5629', Elevation gain 3800'. 8 miles RT. Take I-90 to Exit 47, same trailhead as Pratt Lake (above). From the junction at 2600', go right and traverse through trees .5 miles, then head up countless short switchbacks on an open south slope. At 4000' the trail abruptly swings ease, heading across the avalanche gully. Beware: high avalanche danger persists through June. Be aware of conditions before heading out on this trail! Once you pass the gully, continue up the slopes to the summit ridge at 5200' and to the fire tower at 5629'. Some will even do a traverse (with crampons and ice axe) to Pratt Lake and back. (100 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes, Spring, Spring and Manning, Mountaineers Books.)

MT TENERIFFE, 4788 ft, Elevation gain 3900'. Mt. Teneriffe lies 2 miles to the east of popular Si. It can be seen from I-90 as a "knob" or a point that juts out from the ridge. The winter route goes up a logging road for the first 3500+ feet. This is generally safe except in higher avalanche conditions. To get there, drive on the Mt. Si Road a few miles past the Mt. Si trailhead. Park at a turnout on a gravel road which has a closed metal gate. This will be just past a school bus turnaround sign. Walk up the road, staying on the main road until you are fairly high and traveling east. You will pass a cabin on your left, and you will reach a saddle where the road ends. The fun begins here, where you head through the timber in a southerly direction on the ridge that goes to the top. This can be drippy, icy, etc. You may have to drop down off the ridge top in a couple of places to avoid obstacles. At the top is a rock slab that ends in a drop-off so if it is snow covered, there may be a cornice to avoid.

Another winter option for the ambitious is snowshoeing to Mt. Teneriffe from Mt. Si, thereby avoiding the logging road approach. When there is no snow, you can take a fun, rugged trail up Mt. Teneriffe. Park in the same place. Instead of staying on the main gravel road, take the first unobstructed fork to the right. It turns into a trail which soon traverses west through a large clear cut. When it reaches a stream, the trail heads steeply up to the right, and continues until it dramatically reaches a ridge crest. At this point you are about halfway to the summit. Turn left and go up the ridge. The trail may fade out in places, but with care you can re-connect with it until you are near the summit. I have never found a perfect way up the final couple hundred feet, but avoid the first rocky summit block you see off to the right because it is dangerously loose rock. Instead, skirt around to the left and pick your way upward through annoying vegetation and not so steep rock. Keep going up and you will eventually reach the summit. After enjoying the view, take care on the way down to find the trail or you could go down the wrong ridge.(55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie Pass, Manning and Spring, Mountaineers Books.) Route description contributed by Shirley Rodgers

MAILBOX PEAK 4841 ft, Elevation gain 4000'. This is a superb conditioner that is avalanche prone on the very top portion. From I-90 take Exit 34 and turn left to cross the freeway. Continue ahead past Kenís Restaurant, Texaco, etc. until you reach S.E. Middle Fork Road, where you will turn right. Proceed a couple miles on a narrow paved road. At a fork in the road take a right onto Lake Dorothy Road. The two roads will soon re-join, the pavement ends, and you will see a large pullout and a steel gate across a logging road on your right. This is approximately 3 miles from I-90. Park here and hike up the road. In a few minutes you will see a trail heading up to the left. Take it. If you have sharp eyes you will see an ancient wooden sign nailed to a tree that says the elevation of the peak. The route switchbacks up through forest and ends with an open talus field followed by a steep heathered ridge. Do not go on the open slope out of the trees if there is any avalanche danger. If the conditions allow, hike to the summit and see whatís in "the mailbox." (55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie Pass, Manning and Spring, Mountaineers Books.) Route description contributed by Shirley Rodgers


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