Mount Washington seen from Mailbox Peak
Hiking to the summit of Mount Washington is 12 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 3,400 feet. The first two miles of the trail have moderate incline. Around 2700 feet there is a fork. Stay to the right. The Owl Spot at 2800 feet offers a place to sit and rest while viewing the Snoqualmie valley and Mount Si. After this point, the trail levels out some and the incline is gradual all the way to the summit. Tree branches and underbrush clog the trail around 3000 feet but shortly after the trail emerges onto an old logging road. Follow this around the back side of the mountain and past the false summit. The road then traverses west along a ridge top and then south along another ridge top to the actual summit. If this is confusing, be sure to bring a map and compass with you. If there's anything challenging about this trail, it's the mileage. This is a nice alternative to Mount Si. The trail is much less developed and there are fewer people. The summit offers one of the most majestic views of Mount Rainier in the area. Also, if you are quiet, you may spot a marmot or two.
The lower portion of Mount Washington contains many craggy rock walls which are ideal for climbing. In fact, Mount Washington is the home of the area known as Deception Crags which is the most popular climbing area in the region. All counted, there are 20 climbing walls with an excess of 200 different routes.
Note: The Mount Washington trail head does not begin at the parking lot. Follow the trail head less than a tenth of a mile up to the intersection of the Iron Horse trail. There will be a map sign on the right. The Iron Horse is a wide, highly-developed trail. Turn right at the intersection and continue westward for less than a tenth of a mile. Watch the left side of the trail for an opening in the trees and bush. This is the Mount Washington Trail. If this is your first time on the trail, it's a good idea to bring a map with you. The map for this area is Green Trails
Map No. 206S, Mt. Si NRCA, Snoqualmie Pass Gateway Peaks, Side B.
From Seattle, head east on Interstate 90. 8 miles east of North Bend, get off at Exit 38. Turn right off the exit ramp and take the very next right to park at Olallie State Park/Upper Twin Falls trailhead and facility, elevation 1,200 feet. There is a parking fee of $5. The trailhead is about a 40 minute drive from Seattle.
No northwest forest pass is required to park at this trail head. There is an old feebox which is now donation only.
If you would rather do this long trail as a two day trip, there are a few nice flat spots along the way that would work. Just be sure to bring enough water. Officially, Iron Horse state park camping is riddled with fees and regulations. If you would like to try and sort it out legally visit the Iron Horse
state park webpage.
The Mount Washington trail can be used year round, hiking beyond the Owl Spot lookout yields great snowshoeing during the winter months. Information can be found by contacting the Department of Natural Resources South Puget Sound Region; (360) 825-1631, or Cedar River Watershed Educational Center, (206) 733-9421
Today's NOAA weather forecast for Mount Washington
External LinksIron Horse State Park
Seattle PI Article
Exit 38 Climbing Info
Rock Climbing Info