I am feeling the need to get out even with the bad weather again this year. Come join me for a day hike out to Granite. It looks like the snow has not yet covered this mountain so it will be a good experience to get out and have some fun. I plan to stop by North Bend Bar and Grill on the way back. We leave promptly at 8am so please call me if you are running late...206-321-6096. I will be hiking at a moderate pace so please know your own limits. Also I will be on the west side of the parking lot.
Roundtrip 8.0 miles Elevation Gain 3800 ft Highest Point 5629 ft
One look at the parking lot midday on any summer weekend, and the obvious will jump out and bite you: the Granite Mountain Trail is the most heavily traveled summit path in the Snoqualmie Pass corridor. Of course, there is a good reason for that: it's spectacular. But it's also steep. Mind numbingly, thigh-burning steep. You'll climb a heel-blistering 3800 feet in 4.3 miles to an old fire lookout at the 5600-foot summit, with awesome views in all directions. Pack plenty of water, as there is no good source along the trail.
The trail starts out climbing. You'll hike away from the trailhead parking area through a lush old forest and gain a solid 800 feet in the first mile. At 1 mile the trail forks. Turn right off this relatively flat trail for some serious climbing (to Pratt Lake goes left).
In the next 0.5 mile the switchbacks are easy, if a bit steeper. But as you near 2 miles the switchbacks get tighter, the trail gets steeper, and the breathing gets more difficult. At 4000 feet elevation you'll get a breather as the trail angles across a tricky avalanche chute.
Caution: Early in the year the upper mountain is covered in snow and ice, and the upper slopes are VERY avalanche prone. If you're here any time before mid-June (most years), pause before crossing the chute and look up the gully. If there is still snow above you, be extremely careful--slides can happen at any time.
Once across, the trail starts climbing again. If you time your trek just right, you'll find huckleberries alongside the trail all the way to the ridge top. You'll also break out of the trees and start exploring wide, steeply slanted meadows. Bulbous beargrass fills these meadows in early summer, and when those white blooms disappear, lupine and paintbrush color the slopes red and blue.
At 5200 feet you'll crest the summit ridge, getting a brief reprieve from the ruthless climbing as you cross a meadow. You still have another 0.5 mile or so to cover along the ridge crest and then up the summit crown, but the hardest work is behind you. Get to the top and enjoy the 360-degree views from the lookout--on some weekends, volunteers open it up to visitors.
From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 47 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek). Turn north over the freeway, turn left at the T, and drive to the nearby Pratt Lake-Granite Mountain parking area.