Break from the monotony of most mountain-ascent climbs testing out your calves on Mount Washington. The mountain lies in the cusp of Twin Falls State Park and offers hikers a versatile adventure that includes scrambling up steep trails, testing out bouldering skills, strolling between mountaintops on level plateaus and—of course—enjoying stunning, uninterrupted summit views. Although the beginning of this trail is a little (okay, a lot) unmarked, the calf-burning rigor and spectacular scenery are worth the adventure.

Trailhead

After parking at the Homestead Trailhead, your first task is to find the trail. It climbs upward from the middle of the gravel parking lot, without a reference sign. Climb the steep, rocky trail up to reach the Iron Horse Trail. Inquisitive hikers can glimpse a very uninformative map at the kiosk, if desired. All others should take a right onto the Iron Horse trail. As you stroll along the gravelly remains of the infamous Washington railway, keep an eye on the left side of the trail for a narrow, unsigned, but well-worn trail that forks off from the railroad grade in approximately .2 miles. Take a left onto the trail and immediately you will find yourself climbing upward through a lush mix of deciduous and evergreen trees. As the trail winds up along the base of the mountain, hikers can glimpse a rocky grotto often used by boulderers and rock climbers. Follow the trail as it climbs steadily upward beside the rocky cliffs. Two miles into the trail hikers can indulge in beautiful views of the Cascade foothills, I-90, North Bend and Mount Si from a clearing in the trees. Those who choose to turn around here will have completed the “Owl Hike,” while hikers who continue are getting a teaser of what is to come.

On the Way Up

The trail climbs steadily upward, winding around the mountain’s shoulder as it crosses a creek. After passing a talus slope, the trail suddenly flattens out, cutting between the two mountain peaks. After a few gradual switchbacks, the trail elbows an alpine lake, allowing hikers a quick resting spot. The trail ascends in switchbacks as it zigzags up talus slopes, weaving its way in and out of new-growth forest. After crossing an old logging road and enduring several more switchbacks, hikers plunge out of the evergreens, onto a mountain meadow that offers spectacular views of Mount Rainier in the distance and Chester Morse Lake below. Climb up through the underbrush to enjoy western views of the Cascade foothills.

Season: Summer, fall

Length: 4.5 miles (each way)

Difficulty: Moderate

Variety: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 3300 feet
Highest Point:

Maps: Green Trails: #206 Bandera, #206S Mt Si NRCA
USGS: Chester Morse Lake, Glenoma

Open to: hikers, dogs

Facilities at Trailhead: Privy

Passes/Permits Required: Discovery Pass

Driving Directions:

From I-90 East take exit 38. Turn right onto US 10. Turn right a second time at the first road after crossing the South Fork Snoqualmie River (there is a sign to Olallie State Park). Follow the gravel road, taking the right fork to the Olallie Sate Park/Twin Falls section of the parking lot, and the Homestead Trailhead.

View from the Top – Rainier at Sunset
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