Bandera Mountain - Ira Spring Trail, Ira Spring Trailhead, Seattle - Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass - Central Cascades, Washington
Bandera Mountain - Ira Spring Trail - 7.0 miles
Ira Spring Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||7.0 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,200’ – 5,164’ (5,164’ max elevation on Little Bandera)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,964’ net elevation gain (+2,973’ total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Bandera Mountain - Ira Spring Trail - 7.0 Miles Round-Trip
The Ira Spring Trail climbs over 3000' in just 4.0 miles to Bandera Mountain, a strenuous trek with exceptional views across the I-90 gateway to the Central Cascades. Since views are limited on the true summit, most hikers aim for the Little Bandera promontory, a rocky perch 3.5 miles from the trailhead that's only 80' below the true summit.
The trail rises steadily from Ira Spring Trailhead on an old logging road before switch-backing east to Mason Creek (.8 miles : 2,575’), a tricky ford with high water. Once across it passes an old trail intersection (.9 miles : 2,675') with partial views of McClellan Butte.
At 1.6 miles the trail veers off the logging road onto singletrack and begins a steep climb through intervals of silver fir, Doulas fir, salal and vine maple. The trail passes a stand of noble firs (2.5 miles : 3,818’) before thinning with views of McClellan Butte, Mt. Rainier and the greater South Fork Snoqualmie Valley.
It emerges in open space and crosses a talus field on crib steps and paver stones (2.7 miles : 3,950’) to the Bandera Mountain – Mason Lake Trail split (2.9 miles : 4,190’).
Here travel steepens considerably straight up the open mountainside, gaining nearly 1000' in just over 1/2 mile without the aid of switchbacks. This challenging climb is highlighted by spectacular views of surrounding peaks and Mount Rainier.
Grades ease some through 3.2 miles (4,722’), where you can follow a faint path to the Little Bandera promontory (3.5 miles : 5,164’). Enjoy amazing views straight down to Mason Lake, Lake Kulla Kulla and beyond to Mt Defiance and the Pratt River Valley.
You may also continue .5 miles and 80' up to the true summit of Bandera Mountain (4.0 miles : 5,240'), though views are limited on this heavily wooded point.
- N47 25.492 W121 34.994 — 0.0 miles: Ira Spring Trailhead - 2,200'
- N47 25.534 W121 34.771 — 0.6 miles: Gentle climb up old logging grade - 2,462'
- N47 25.339 W121 34.522 — 1.0 miles: Cross Mason Creek - 2,684'
- N47 25.078 W121 34.090 — 1.5 miles: Continue up logging grade - 2,990'
- N47 24.996 W121 33.582 — 2.0 miles: Trail climbs steeply above logging grade - 3,435'
- N47 25.023 W121 33.441 — 2.5 miles: Continue ascent with southerly views - 3,818'
- N47 25.120 W121 33.404 — 2.9 miles: Bandera Mountain-Mason Lake Trail split - 4,192'
- N47 25.168 W121 33.323 — 3.0 miles: Climb straight up open slopes - 4,470'
- N47 25.093 W121 32.886 — 3.5 miles: Little Bandera Mountain Summit - 5,164'
- The Mason Creek ford at .8 miles can be difficult with high water, especially during the spring runoff.
- Most hikers will end their trip at the open false summit of Little Bandera (5164’) since the true summit of Bandera (only 80’ higher, but a half mile further) is wooded and does not have views.
- The open climb above the Mason Lake / Bandera junction to the top of Bandera is extremely steep – trekking poles are helpful here.
- A fire in the 19th century burned the upper part of Bandera Mountain and the forest has still yet to recover – in its place, silver stumps and bear grass abound.
Camping and Backpacking Information
The Tinkham Campground is located nearby for car camping. Exit 42 off I-90, turning right off the ramp, and proceeding along F.R. 55 to the campground on the left.
- An overnight Wilderness Permit must be filled out at the TH and carried for the duration of your trip. Max group size is 12.
- Camp only at established sites at Mason Lake and stick to the main trail around the lake. A privy is located just before reaching the lake.
- Fires are not permitted above 4000' feet west of the Cascade Crest, or at Mason Lake.
- Fishing is allowed with a valid WA state fishing license.
- Contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for more information.
Sport | Commercial Licenses: 360.902.2434
Disability Licenses: 360.902.2460
Rules and Regulations
- A Northwest Forest Pass or $5 fee is required at this trailhead.
- A free day use or overnight Wilderness Permit must be filled out at the TH and carried for the duration of your trip in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
- Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
The Ira Spring Trailhead is located 3.8 miles from Exit 45 on I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass.
From I-90, take exit 45 (signed F.R. 9030) and turn left off the ramp. Continue along 9030, past where the pavement ends (at .4 miles) to a signed junction at .8 miles.
The right fork leads to the Talapus Lake Trailhead (Trail #1039). The left fork (F.R. 9031) continues to the Ira Spring trailhead. Proceed on the left fork for 3 miles, passing a spur road that splits off right at 2.1 miles to a quarry. Arrive at the trailhead and parking lot at 3.8 miles.
The parking lot holds 35 cars; a privy is available.
Mt Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest | Snoqualmie Ranger District
902 SE North Bend Way, Bldg 1
North Bend, WA 98045
Reference Trail #1038