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.