Approximately 9.5 miles round-trip.
Trailhead elevation: 2,100 feet
Elevation gain: 3,500 feet
This approach to Mt. Defiance starts at the Mason Lake trailhead #1038 and is almost 3 miles to Mason Lake. This is also the starting point for climbing Bandera Mountain. The trail gradually climbs an old logging road through the forest for about a mile before reaching a junction. Follow the Mason Lake trail to the left. At this point the trail climbs through the forest for almost .5 mile before forking off in two directions. Both trails will eventually lead to Mason Lake and both are pretty steep. The one to the right is the main trail.
Expect exposed roots, mud and otherwise slippery conditions if you take the trail to the left, which is well beaten but un-maintained. It follows the creek and will be less crowded than the normal trail, still quite steep in places. The normal trail goes off to the right and gains elevation right away. After popping in and out of the forest over the next mile or so, the trail reaches a boulder field. Follow several cairns through part of the boulder field and back into the woods. Less than .5 miles of hiking from the boulder field leads to Mason Lake.
Follow the established trail around the left-hand side of the lake, past several spur trails with nearly no elevation gain to the junction with the Mt. Defiance trail #1009. From here go left, or west, and hike the trail, steeply at times, until it exits the forest onto open slope. Continue across the slope until the trail begins to round the southwest ridge of Mt. Defiance. At this point a cairn marks the trail uphill to the right. Another 300 feet of steep hiking and the summit is reached.
No techinical gear is needed July through October.