was looking for a long hike without much of a crowd. In years past I
pieced together a road route to the top of West Rattlesnake Mountain.
Back then, there was a boot path up to Rattlesnake Ledges. There was a
boot path that connected to a road up to East Rattlesnake Mountain. I
knew of no path from the winery where Snoqualmie Point is now located.
I wanted to get to the top of the West Peak. The USGS map was way out
of date and most logging roads were not shown. On my first try I ended
up in a big new clear cut with a view of the towers far away. My second
try ended up underneath the East Peak. There was no personal GPS in the
late 1980s. Just a map and compass. On my third try I made it to the
top. Years later a route from Snoqualmie Point made it much easier.
This is strictly a winter walk for me. Best with a little fresh snow
covering the upper road. Still, every now and then I like to head back
up on the road network. It is a long hike with near total solitude.
trip up was in January 2009. At
2.6 miles a culvert carried Canyon Creek under the road. I arrived that
day to find it completely washed out. I was able to ford the creek is
the water was low. I tried again a few years later and the roaring
creek turned me back. I thought a bout this trip the night before and a
check of Google Earth showed a bridge in place. Time to check it out. I
arrived at the 880' start at 8:05 am. South on Highway 18 from I-90 a
short way to a left turn lane. Go left and park. The paved road of the
route goes straight ahead. It is usually gated. The road to homes
angles off to the left. By 8:10 I was on my way. The gate was open. I
think that's the first time I have seen that. The road crosses a swamp
then climbs a bit and turns to the south. At one mile is a big electric
power sub station. There are two sets of power lines leading into the
station. The second has had a steep trail under it. The other now has a
new road heading under the first pylon. The road is new and well
traveled. More on this later. The pavement ends and another gate, this
one closed, keeps vehicles off the route.
The road has mile signs most half miles. A few are missing. It starts
with a very gentle grade. Just after 2.5 miles the road crosses the new
bridge. Then comes the steepest stretch of the whole trip. The road
parallels Canyon Creek as it gains elevation. After climbing past the 3
mile marker a road comes in from the left. This it the first route I
took three decades ago looking for a way up West Peak. The grade eases
up to the 4 1/5 mile marker. The old mile markers are gone. Now there
are newer ones and more of them. At the 4 1/2 mile marker is a gated
road heading uphill to the left. That is the route to the West Summit.
The Evergreen Bike web page says going straight ahead also goes to the
West Peak. It didn't used to. I know. I tried years ago.
From the open gate on up the road has a newer layer of gravel. At least
newer than 2009. The smooth old road was very easy on my feet up to the
junction. Now it was less fun. I made very good speed covering the
first 4 1/2 miles in 1:21 minutes. A very fast pace for me. The road
steepens and with the sharp slightly loose gravel I slowed down. The 5
mile marker is at the next switchback. The 6 mile marker is at the
following switchback. There are a few roads going off. Stay on the
uphill route. Many old roads have been decommissioned and are closed
down. At about 6.7 miles there is another junction. Straight ahead is a
heavier traveled road. My guess is it is the new road that went under
the power lines near the start. I'll have to check it out some day.
I turned right on the road heading uphill. Soon there was a little snow
on the sides. Then there was snow in the middle. At 7.1 miles and 2900'
I reached the spot where the new mountain biking trail crosses the
road. I hiked up this trail back in September for the first time. I met
two bikers here. The first people I saw all day. They had just hit snow
on the forested trail below the road. We talked for a while then we all
headed up the trail. The trail was mostly snow covered. The bike tire
tracks made for some slush and it was hard to keep my feet dry in
lightweight trail runners. There was no snow at 2750' on Tiger 2 two
days earlier and I did not expect much if any on Rattlesnake. Traction
was okay but it was much wetter than hoped for. The trail crossed the
road one more time then again just below the summit towers.
I went across the road a short way to a viewpoint. The sky was mostly
clear with great views. Weather was coming in but was sunny this
morning. I stopped at the viewpoint on the edge of a big clear cut. It
extends along the crest of Rattlesnake Ridge towards the still forested
East Peak. It was 10:53 when I stopped, 8.1 miles from the start. Mt.
Rainier was clear to the
south. Fresh snow covered peaks to the east. There was about 4-6 inches
of fresh snow on the ground. Two more bikers slogged/road on by. That
accounted for all but two more bikers in the last mile of the day. I
had near total solitude. After a 20 minute break I went back to the
snowy road and headed for the summit. There was 6+ inches on the road.
A truck had been up since the snow. The tracks were almost bare. At the
3260' high point I went off the road to get some better views. At one
point I post holed below my knee.
At 11:30 I headed on down. I chose to descend via the road instead of
the bike trail. It was a bit longer but much less slushy. At the second
switchback I was only about 75' from the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail
near Grand Prospect. I have cut through the trees here to get to GP.
Soon enough I was back below the snow level. That just left a long road
slog back to the car. Below the 3 1/2 mile mark I took the road that I
took on my first try for the summit many years ago. I went a little
beyond a new bridge over Canyon Creek. This side trip pushed added .38
miles each way and brought my mileage up to a little over 17 miles. It
was chilly on the way up but was much warmer the last few miles. I
reached the car at 2:21 pm.
This trip provided just what I wanted. I covered 17 miles with 2600' of
elevation gain. The drive was short and I managed all that and still
finished with several hours of daylight left. The three sets of bikers
were the only folks I saw all day long. The last two were barely half a
mile from the car at the end of the day. There was more snow than I
expected but even with light boots, no poles, and no traction devices I
did just fine. The snow highlighting the trees and the surrounding
peaks made it much more scenic. A long road walk is not my normal trip
but for an occasional day it can be a lot of fun. A great day on the
"road" for a change.
on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Starting At Open Gate
Power Sub Station
Miles Of Road
4 1/2 Mile Junction
Snow On Road
Snowy Bike Trail
The First Road Crossing
Route Route Down
Off The Snow