Snoqualmie Mountain

     Snoqualmie Mountain is one of the close to Seattle hikes I have known about for years but never taken. It is a short, very steep trip up an unofficial trail to a great summit. The mountain is higher than Chair, Kaleetan, Kendall, Red, Silver and the others right near the pass. Because of the short distance I had not wanted to take up a whole Summer day to do it. With the snow all gone, I felt that this would be a good time to finally go. Best of all, I did it in the late afternoon and saved the weekend for a longer hike. I reached the Alpental parking lot by 2:20. As stated in many other reports the trail starts a short distance to the right of the Snow Lake trail, right off the road. At first it goes through high brush at an easy grade. That does not last long. Quickly the route begins to go right up the mountain side. At times it is up rocks in what seems like a dry stream bed. Occasionally it almost seems to switch back. Never does the grade relent. I was surprised to see how much shade there was on a fairly hot late summer day. The way is not dangerous but care must be taken so as not to slip and turn an ankle on the steep loose sections.

     After 40 minutes of climbing I reached an intersection at a big rock. The way right goes to Guye Peak. The sign shows two routes left, one to Snoqualmie Mountain and one to Snow Lake. I hunted around on the way down and never could find a route heading towards the lake. The trail dropped down and crossed a dry stream at what would normally be the middle of a couple big waterfalls. I climbed very steeply up the other side of the creek bed and met the first hikers of the day. Two guys were backpacking up to Cave Ridge. The heat, their full packs, and the steepness was slowing them down. I have no desire to go up and down this "trail" with a full pack. Soon after passing them the forest began to give way to more open slopes. Guye Peak was now visible a short distance away. The route began short switchbacks up the slope. Views improved rapidly and I was glad it was 75 degrees and not 85. The sun would be brutal on this south slope on a really hot day. There were several spots on rock where the trail was indistinct but overall, route finding was no problem. I crested one especially steep section and the grade lessened while the route actually began to resemble a constructed trail. It's unusual for a trail to get better as you get farther from the trailhead. Berries were very poor with one exception in the middle of the upper slopes. I stopped on the way down to enjoy the sweet blueberries. The trail swung around to the southeast ridge top and finally a view of the summit area. It wound around to a saddle between two summits. The one on the left seemed higher so I went over there first. There were two hikers on top who were heading down just as I arrived. They were the only other people I saw the whole day.

     The view from the summit was even better than I had hoped for. Snow Lake is below. The Pacific Crest Trail is visible on the side of Kendall Peak. Mt. Stuart looms large to the east. Rainier and Adams are seen to the south. The view of Glacier Peak is also very good. There was a little afternoon haze. I will come back in an early morning to get even clearer views. The trip down was a real knee grinder but not as difficult as I expected. Nonetheless, I was glad to finally get back to the start. The reports I have read show the distance as 5 to 6 miles round trip with about 3200' of gain. At a nice steady pace I took 1:57 up  and 1:47 down. The time down included a short break for the blueberries. I will add this hike to my list of local favorites and get back at least once per year.