It’s only a matter of time before you find yourself on the Mason Lake Trail (also called the Ira Spring Trail) heading up to Mason Lake. The proximity to Seattle, manageable elevation gains (this is good workout, you will find this strenuous if you are not in shape to hike), and spectacular views, make this a very popular hike. You will find it heavily trafficked all year long.
The trail begins near the toilet at the western edge of the parking lot (ample parking if you get there before 8 or 9 AM on weekends). The first 2 miles can seem to be unrelenting. This portion of the trail is an 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. Shortly after this steep(er) section, the trail becomes a bit tamer with switchbacks starting around 3500 feet. The mid-avalanche chute area is where the views begin and (spectacular views) that continue until you reach the top. This makes the first two miles worth the effort. At about 4,200 feet, you will reach the turn off to Bandera Mountain. Continue to the left as the sign notes up the more established trail. Another 0.3 miles up from the sign, you will reach a small rocky area which 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’) into a evergreen forest toward Mason Lake. It’s a nice quick trip to the lake, just another 0.4 miles. This part of the Ira Spring Trail is well shaded and usually less windy and slightly cooler than the other side of the Mountain. Soon you will cross the Mason Lake outflow over some large rocks. The Lake will come into view shortly 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.
- Area – Mt Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest
- Trail – Ira Spring trail or Mason Lake Trail
- Map – Green Trails Bandera No. 206
- Length – 6.5 miles out and back (about 2,100′ Elevation gain, highest point is 4,750 ‘)
- Trail – Well established dirt trail, first 2 miles is steep.
- Dogs – Not the best dog hike, dogs are allowed.
- Bikes – No
- Views – Lots of views after reaching 3,500 feet
- 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 (carry water)
- Facilities – there a restroom at the trail head parking lot and Mason Lake. Bring water.
- Fee – Northwest Forest Pass is required. Click pass for detailed information and vendor on where to purchase
- Camping – Contact Snoqualmie Ranger District
To get to this hike 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. Its over 3 miles on an even, but gravel/dirt road — most cars can make it fine. On busy weekends, keep aware of others 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.