Have you ever been driving east out I-90 on your way to a new adventure, and just past North Bend you look left, up a valley, past Mailbox and just past and left of Zorro Ridge is a spectular rocky peak? You might have thought it was Garfield peeking around the corner but it not. It's Russian Butte. It doesn't get climbed very often, probably just a few time a year -despite its half hour proximity to Seattle it really is a remote peak with all the logistical challenges that go with that. It's not an easy peak to get to the top of, but if you do the rewards include adventure, exploration, views no one else gets to see and that odd feeling of being in the middle of nowhere in the middle of somewhere!
Russian Butte and Gifford Lake from Revolution Peak Russian Butte summit rock
Pan from Revolution Peak
Getting ThereAccess from the west:
Take exit 34 (eastern most exit for North Bend) from I-90. Go north on 468th Ave for about 0.4 miles. Go right on the SE Middle Fork Road. The road may or may not fork after a while depending on washout and repair status but it doesn't much matter which fork you take - they come back together. Drive 5.1 miles to the concrete bridge across the middle fork of the Snoqualmie and park. The is an unmarked trailhead about 100 feet back along the south side of the road.
Depending on the route you are interested in, you may want to park farther along the road.
Alternatively you can start your western approach from the Mailbox Peak trailhead
which is 2.8 miles from the start of the SE Middle Fork Road. This variation adds about 3 miles to your total round trip. (see the green line on the map).
If you want to approach the mountain from I-90 via Mt Defiance, take exit 45, cross to the north side of the free and drive west about 3.7 miles and park at the Ira Sprint trailhead.
Topo of Russian Butte and route up from the Middle Fork Snoqualmie
This mountain is not climbed very often and all the routes have major access problems, the least of which is distance but also included can be multiple river (not creek) crossings, spring flooding, the complete lack of a maintained trail, route finding, and marginally technical rock on the summit.
|Route ||Grade ||Notes |
| South Route
from Middle Fork
|II Class 3
|| Hike as to Granite Lakes either from the Mailbox Peak parking lot or from the concrete bridge on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie. At 3 miles the trail forks right to the lakes but you should follow the left fork and old logging roads to the top of Thompson Point (5124). From here follow on or right of the ridgeline NE for 3.5 miles to Revolution Point. Then follow the ridge north for approximately 2 miles to 3rd class rocky slabs that lead to the summit. You might avoid the harder part of the slabs by ascending through steap forest on your left. RT 17.5 miles, approx 16 hours. |
| South Route
| II Class 3
|| Begin with your favorite route to Mt Defiance from I-90. Continue to Thompson Lake and then follow a trail up and NW to joint the previous route below Thompson Point. |
| East Route
via Pratt River Trail
| Class 2
|| I know that this approach has been attempted but I don't no if anyone has ever been successful. Park about 4 miles beyond the concrete bridge. Figure out how to cross the Middle Fork Snoqualmie. Old maps may show a bridge here but it is no longer there. It may be possible to cross the Snoqualmie farther NE on a foot bridge and then hike back. Find the mostly out of commision Pratt River Trail and follow it SE for at least 2.5 miles. Find a way to cross the Pratt and then ascend the less steep SE slopes of the mountain to the summit. |
|| Becky attributes the FA to a USGS mapping party in 1960 and doesn't specify a route. |
| Winter Route?
|| There's a picture TR on the web of a winter route. |Topo of Russian Butte and route up from the Middle Fork Snoqualmie
No parking permits are required at this time from the Middle Fork approaches. If you approach via the Ira Spring trailhead (I-90) a Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking. Also, self-issued permits for the Alpine Lake Lakes Wilderness are available at that trailhead as you will hiking through part of the ALW to get to Russian Butte. Russian Butte itself is not in the ALW.
On the Middle Fork Snoqualmie side there are no camping restrictions. If you approach from the I-90 side you'll be passing through the Alpine Lakes Wildnerness where some camping restrictions apply.
The View From the TopPlace your mouse cursor over the red rays to see which peaks are visible from the summit of Russian Butte
If you would like to add a map like this to your mountain page, please PM me and I will help you.
Map of the 40 most prominent peaks visible from Russian Butte
External LinksMy Russian Butte TR from the Middle Fork Snoqualmie approach
Alpine Lakes Wilderness online map
"Cascade alpine guide, climbing and high routes, Columbia river to Stevens Pass" by Fred Becky
Gabriel's trip report via Granite Lakes and using mountain bikes
More route discussion
Discussion of alternate routes on cascadeclimbers.com
Andreism photos of winter ascent
Some discussion re the Thompson Point cabin on nwhikers.net
My trip report
and discussion on nwhikers.net