TRAIL OF THE WEEK: Our seasonally accessible trail information and trip report. Found online or delivered to your in box every Sunday night.

Dirty Harry’s Balcony

Trails along the I-90 corridor are numerous and often crowded. Dirty Harry’s Balcony is a lesser traveled path and a nice break from the ordinary. The majority of this hike follows the old logging road that was cut by the infamous logger Harry Gault. Though it is an old “road”, the trail meanders through close evergreens, making you feel gently hugged on all sides by the close and occasionally dense growth.

The trail is easy to follow, though and requires only one turn off, to the right, at a small clearing, where you head out to the balcony overlook. Most of the hike is a gentle rise in elevation, criss-crossing water runoff and pebbles, though a couple spots right before the Balcony require a bit of effort. Continuing on the road would take you up the ridge and on to Dirty Harry’s Peak, which adds considerable elevation and distance, as well as views. Most of the trail is on or near a creek, so the comforting trickle of the nearby water drowns out any road noise from the freeway, until you reach the immediate area of the Balcony. The Balcony itself is small and quaint and a nice place for lunch, overlooking I-90, breaking out from the otherwise well forested trek, and offering views of McClellan Butte across the way.

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Length: 4 miles round trip

Variety: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 1300Ft

Difficulty: My sister could do it

Season: Winter

Trail open to: Hikers and dogs

Maps: Green Trails Bandera No. 206

Northwest forest pass required

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Directions:  From Seattle I-90 East.  Take exit 38 and go right at the bottom of the ramp.  Follow signs for “Fire Training Center”.  Go about 1 mile.  You will cross the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River and pass Ollalie State Park turnout on the left.  You will finally cross under I-90 and come to a yellow gate at the Fire Training Center.  Park outside of the gate if you intend to be back later than 4:00pm as it will be locked.  About ½ mile past the gate is a cement utilities building with a chain link fence around it.  This is one of the wider spots in the road to park.  Trail head is on the right side of the road about 300 yards past the utility building. The only descriptive markers (especially in snow) are a small hiking sign 30 yards down the trail, and on the road, across from the trail head is a short utility pole with orange reflectors and metal numbers “798”.

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