Monday, February 16, 2009

Rattlesnake Mountain - Rattlesnake Ledge Trail

Date of Hike: Feb 2009

Hike Route: Out and Back - Start at Rattlesnake Lake up the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail to the Ledges, return back down. No intersecting trails along the route.

This is a "must do" Seattle hike - the well-maintained trail makes for an fairly easy hike up the 1,100 elevation gain. And the views at the ledge are fantastic on a good clear day.

As lots of local guide books mention, including Take a Hike Seattle on page 174, all this makes it a very popular trail - to say the least. I did this hike with some friends on a very Sunny Sunday morning. Luckily, we did this hike very early and we were one of just a few groups at the top of the ledges. As we came down the mountain, we passed at least 50 folks - and about 15 dogs as they made their way up. Do this hike very early if you don't like crowds.

At the base of the mountain, you can see the ledges you will end up at on this hike.

From Hiking - Rattlesnake Mountain

The trailhead is really easy to find, as its basically the only hiking trail in the area. There is a rest stop at the trailhead which is good since you wont be "alone" on the trail.

From Hiking - Rattlesnake Mountain

The trail was redone a couple of years ago by the Washington Trails Association and Earthcorps. Its a nice wide trail up, but has plenty of switchbacks.

From Hiking - Rattlesnake Mountain

About midway up there is a nice lookout point back at Rattlesnake Lake and surrounding mountains to the southwest. The trail continues up with more switchbacks. Its not a hard hike by any means, and it would be much tougher if the trail was straight up.

From Hiking - Rattlesnake Mountain

At about 1,100 feet elevation gain, you reach the Rattlesnake Ledge. Bear right on the trail and it will lead to the windy main ledge with some awesome views of the surrounding areas. You can see Mount Si and Little Si as well. (Pictures of the views)

From Hiking - Rattlesnake Mountain

There is a less popular ledge point further up the main trail toward East Peak - its a very short 5 min walk up and WELL worth it. You can even see the main ledge from this higher second ledge. Note -The second ledge is much smaller than the main ledge.

The trail leading to the second ledge narrows and gets more snowy.

From Hiking - Rattlesnake Mountain

This is one of my favorite hikes, since the views are unbeatable. But its easy to see why most of the guide books say its "crowded" and "popular" -- obviously this is a Top Hike in the Seattle area even for casual hikers. Just go very early if you want to avoid the crowds.

The main parking lot at Rattlesnake Mountain is the site for WTA's Trailfest in July.

Area - Rattlesnake Mountain (Near North Bend, Washington)
Trails - Rattlesnake Mountain Trail (to the Ledges)
Map - Green Trails Rattlesnake Mountain/Upper Snoqualmie Valley Map 205S (Overview Map)
Elevation - Gain of 1,100 feet
Length - 4.0 miles out and back - about 2 hours with limited stops
Trail - Dirt trail - starts very wide, gets narrow past first Ledge
Bikes - Not allowed on this hike
View - Yes - some great views at midway and at the Ledge points
Getting There - Take I-90 East to Exit 32 (468th Street), turn right and follow the road for 5 miles until the trailhead and parking lot on the right.
Fee- None, free parking - large parking lot - (Donate to the WTA)
Other Trails - Not really, only one main trail up the mountain.