Trekking the Mt Si Trail
If you have not hiked Mt Si you will find that backpackers and climbers use the Mt Si trail as a tune-up for the coming season. I use the trail as a barometer in July or August to measure my fitness each summer. The trail is one of few that become snow-free early in the year. The estimate is that thirty thousand to fifty thousand hikers climb to the top of Mt Si each year. The hike is popular because the trail is a good test of your conditioning, it is easily reachable (close to 30 minutes from Seattle), and it has spectacular views from the top. You will not be spending the day secluded deep in the Cascades; you will be sharing the trail. Most hikers will spend 30 minutes or more at the top so you will be sharing that space, still the views are spectacular.
There is plenty of parking (you still need to arrive early) at the trail head with both a “his” and “hers” bathroom (the only one on the trail). Once you leave the trail head you start into a moderate climb for 1 mile until you reach the first views of the hike. Here, at around 1600 feet, you’ll find wonderful views from atop a rocky bluff on the side of the mountain. As you near the 1.8-mile mark, you’ll sweep alongside a small brook, with grassy banks on which to rest. This is Snag Flat–the site of an old burn, as evidenced by the blackened scars on the trunks of many of the old Douglas-firs in the area.
The trail pushes on; the relentless steepness can start to take a toll at this point. When you finally crest the last slope and step out onto what appears to be the summit. The true summit of Si is atop the big rock called “haystack”. The haystack does sport a scramble path to the top, but the route is tricky. You should consider this when you believe you have enough experience to understand the dangers.
You can go to the Washington Trails Association website for the latest information on trail conditions.
From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 32 (436th Avenue SE). Turn left (north) over the freeway and drive 0.5 mile to North Bend Way. Turn left (west), and in 0.25 mile turn right (north) on Mount Si Road. The large trailhead parking lot is on the left, 2.5 miles down the road. MapQuest can provide directions for you.
- Roundtrip 8.0 miles
- Elevation Gain 3150 ft
- Highest Point 3900 ft
- Spectacular mountain views from the top
- Wear proper footwear and carry water
- Dogs are allowed on leash
- Discover Pass required
- Green Trails Mount Si No. 174 and Bandera No. 206 (obtain at REI)