Wonderful Hiking Trail To Keep You In Shape: Mason Lake Trail

Wonderful Hiking Trail To Keep You In Shape: Mason Lake Trail

Mason Lake Trail

Photo Compliments of Steve Cyr

Mason Lake trail, or sometimes you will hear it called the Ira Springs trail, is part of the Alpine Wilderness here in Washington. The trail is noted for its breathtaking views and its ability to get you into shape.

The trail is located off I-90 at exit 45 (about 45 minutes outside Seattle). I walk and hike all winter to get ready for summer and when spring comes and the snow melts I use Mason Lake Trail to get a bit of elevation to hit that next level of difficulty.

The guide books and the Forest Service rate this hike as “more difficult” and I would have to concur. Although this is only a 6 mile or so hike (out and back) from the trailhead to Mason Lake and back to the trailhead, the elevation gain is almost 2,337 (maximum elevation is 4,285 feet) so it’s a steep ascent will seem relentless if you are not in shape. Mason Lake is a moderate sized lake, listed at 33 acres and holds rainbow trout. The shoreline is boulder-strewn making it tricky to easily walk around the entire lake once you arrive there; you will definitely need to watch your step

The proximity to Seattle, manageable elevation gains (this is a good workout), and spectacular views, make this a very popular hike. The trail is heavily trafficked all year long.

Mason Lake Trail

Photo Compliments of Sean Munson

Mason Lake Trail: What to Expect

The trail begins near the public toilet at the western edge of the parking lot. There is ample parking if you get there before 8 or 9 AM on weekends.

The first 2 miles of the trail will seem to be unrelenting; this portion of the trail is a true uphill climb with no real switchbacks or flat parts. The trail is fairly wide at first so it’s easy to pass slower hikers making it up the trek. After completing this initial steeper section the trail becomes a bit tamer with switchbacks starting around 3500 feet. The mid-avalanche chute area is where the views become absolutely spectacular and will continue until you reach the top. At about 4,200 feet of total elevation is the turn off to Bandera Mountain (the signage is excellent-you will not lose your way). Continue to the left as the sign notes up the more established trail. After another 0.3 miles up from the sign you will reach a small rocky area (a saddle on the ridge) which also provides some great views. There is a plaque on one of the large boulders dedicated to Ira Spring, for which this trail was dedicated. At this point, the trail enters the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. The trail now descends (about 500 feet) into an evergreen forest toward Mason Lake. It’s a wonderful, but quick trip to the lake, just another 0.4 miles. This part of the Mason Lake Trail is well shaded and usually less windy and slightly cooler than the other side of the Mountain. You will quickly cross the Mason Lake outflow over some large rocks. The Lake will now come into view as the trail wraps around it. You will find that folks have broken out lunch here and are enjoying some time at the Lake before turning around and heading back down.

General Mason Lake Trail Information

  • Area: Mt Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest
  • Map: Green Trails Bandera No. 206 Map (please carry a map with you)
  • Length: 6.5 miles out and back (about 2,100 feet of elevation gain, highest point is 4,750 feet)
  • Dogs: Dogs are allowed on this trail, the rocky trail is hard on their feet
  • Bikes: Definitely not
  • Views: Lots of view areas after reaching 3,500 feet, bring your camera
  • Sun/Shade Conditions: First 2 miles (and at Mason Lake) is in the shade, the upper part of the hike is mostly in the open (definitely carry water)
  • Facilities: There a restroom at the trail head parking lot (it is rustic).  Carry-bring water with you, especially in hot weather.
  • Fee: Northwest Forest Pass is required (this can be purchased online).
  • Camping: Contact Snoqualmie Ranger District.


To get to the trailhead take Exit 45 off I-90, pass under the freeway, then turn Left on FR9030 and Left again on FR 9031 which is a gravel/dirt road; it’s over 3 miles on an even, but gravel/dirt road. On busy weekends you need to be on watch for cars coming down the road as it’s a one lane with many blind spots. Check the road and trail condition at the WTA.org website, especially before the snow melts. You can also get trail condition information from the Snoqualmie Ranger District.

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  1. I love going for walks and this sounds like a great trail. I am further north in BC and we have lots of great places to walk here too. Nice to learn more about your area!
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