If you are looking for a spectacular hike that can train your legs and entertain your taste buds, look no further than Mount Defiance. This spectacular mountain is located in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National forest, and offers a physically-stimulating yet non-technical day hike or backpacking trip. If you choose to tackle Defiance during a sunny day, you can expect to soak in spectacular views of the rugged Alpine Lakes Wilderness. If you hike to the top in cloudy weather, don’t fret: at least you’ve had a good workout.

©Melissa Farage

Set off from the Ira Spring trailhead and follow the Ira Spring Trail up the flank of the mountain. This old logging road cuts through dense evergreen and aspen forest, offering occasional glimpses of the opposite mountains. The trail opens up as it gains elevation, letting hikers look over to Bandera Mountain before switch-backing towards the talus slopes beneath Mason Lake. Roughly 2.25 miles into the trail you will come to a junction. Take the left to follow the Ira Spring Trail towards Mason Lake (the right fork leads to Bandera Mountain). Continue to climb through the re-growth forest, but take time to sample a few huckleberries that line the trail. Follow the rocky trail over the crest and follow it as it winds downward towards Mason Lake Basin. Mason Lake will be on your right.

©Melissa Farage

Follow the trail as it skirts around the edge of the lake, then breaks away into the forest. Roughly .25 miles later you will come to an intersection. Take a left to follow the sign to Mount Defiance, and continue through the evergreen forest towards the base of the mountain peak. Follow the trail as it switchbacks up the side of the mountain, gaining altitude aggressively. After a set of steep switchbacks the trail leaves the forest, slowly gaining elevation as it crosses a clear mountainside adorned with huckleberries, salmonberries and other low foliage. Follow the trail across the mountainside, and then turn onto a well-worn trail that forks up and to the right. The trail cuts upward in a steep rocky path, then slowly levels out as it turns onto the pinnacle of Mount Defiance. Sit back and relax, and enjoy the gorgeous mountains that shroud the popular Pratt Lake, Rainbow Lake and Island Lake.


Season: Late Autumn, Early Winter

Length: 6 miles (each way)

Difficulty: Moderate

Variety: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 3384 feet

Highest Point: 5584 feet

Maps: Green Trails Bandera No. 206

Open To: hikers, dogs

Passes and Permits Required: NW Forest Pass



From I-90 take Exit 45. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 9030. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 9031 when the road ends on the other side of the freeway. Continue on the road (that turns from pavement to gravel) until it ends at the Ira Spring Trailhead parking lot.

©Melissa Farage

Leave a Reply