Trail of the Week: Mount Washington near North Bend

In wetter months, water can be seen running over some of the rock cliffs along Mount Washington trail.
In wetter months, water can be seen running over some of the rock cliffs along Mount Washington trail. chill@thenewstribune.com

Mount Washington

Hike description: Mount Washington is a lot like many of the other peaks in the North Bend area, but it offers some things the more popular trails don’t.

Unlike famous thigh-testers such as Mount Si and Mailbox Peak, you can count on smaller crowds. And from the summit, you’ll get a better view to the south.

On clear days near the top 4,450-foot Mount Washington, you can capture Mount Rainier and Tacoma in one panoramic picture. And the trail offers plenty more as it climbs the forested slope.

Starting from the trailhead near Interstate 90’s Exit 38, hikers use a connector trail and old road to climb up to the Iron Horse State Park Trail. Turn right, and after about 100 yards, find the Mount Washington trail on the left. You’ll climb most of the rest of the way on a trail that is often quite rugged.

A cave in a trailside cliff is a favorite haunt for rock climbers. Gear affixed to the rock outlines a challenging route.

As the trail switchbacks its way up the slopes, you’ll get several opportunities to see the water from the creek cascading down the hill.

By the end of the second mile, hikers will start to get occasional views of North Bend and the Snoqualmie Valley

A mile more, after crossing the creek, the sounds of I-90 start to fade, but hopefully your energy won’t because there is still more climbing to do.

You’re entering the final stretch when a sign welcomes you to the Cedar River Municipal Watershed, water source for more than 1.4 million people in the Seattle area.

The view may actually be best just below the summit, where you can take in the vista to the south. But definitely continue another 75 yards up through the trees to the rocky summit and its view that includes the snaking I-90 corridor where you started this trek. A summit register, protected in a large white PVC pipe, is stashed in the rocks.

Directions: From eastbound Interstate 90, take Exit 38 and turn right. After crossing the South Fork Snoqualmie River, turn right to access the trailhead parking lot.

Difficulty rating: 4 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).

Miles round trip: 8.5.

Elevation gain: 3,200 feet.

Best time of the year: April-November.

Map: Green Trail 206: Bandera.

Pass: Discover Pass.

Also: Dogs on leashes are allowed, but owners must clean up after them. Camping and fires are not permitted in the watershed. The trail crosses the Olallie Trail, which is under construction and closed. That project is expected to be complete by the end of 2017. The peak was once known as Profile Mountain. Several geocaches are hidden in the area. For more information. visit geocaching.com.

Info: parks.state.wa.us, bit.ly/2dFTUVg.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497