Hike description: Views on this trail are the result of past fires (loggers were the culprits for the 1958 burn, in the previous century lightning was probably to blame), not clear cuts.
Begin on Ira Spring Trail 1038, aka Mason Lake, to the sign-posted junction with Bandera Mountain Trail.
This is a very pleasant workout hike which begins on the rerouted Ira Spring Trail.
Shortly, you will pass Mason Creek (often positively thundering down in mid May, producing a welcome refreshing breeze).
Look closely and you might still spot evidence of the old steep and narrow abandoned trail.
Above the tree line the trail comes to a junction, sign-posted left for Mason Lake; continue right to Bandera Mountain which turns into a boot path as it snakes steeply upward through boulders of increasing size.
Use good caution on this section.
There’s a great lunch spot at the un-named 5,157 foot peak with panorama mountain views, including Mount Rainier toward the south, and lakes and peaks to the north.
Continue a little farther along the ridge to Bandera Mountain peak at 5,241 feet.
For additional exploration during the descent, turn right at the junction for the short hike to Mason Lake, look for the plaque celebrating Ira Spring set in the rocks before descending to the lake.
Backtrack to the junction and return down 1038 trail to your car.
Directions: From Interstate 90 eastbound, take Exit 45 turning left, driving back under freeway.
Turn left and drive about 2 miles on Forest Service Road 9031. The Ira Spring Trail 1038 at Mason Lake Trailhead is at the end of the road.
Difficulty rating: 4 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 8
Elevation: 2,800 feet
Best time of year: May to October
Map: Green Trails Bandera 206
Pass: Northwest Forest Pass
Also: The upper portion of trail has little shade, carry plenty of water, and don’t forget your sunscreen and shady hat. For the end of your hike on a warm day, have a cooler along with welcome cold beverages. A clean set of clothes for the drive home also works well. A toilet is available at the trailhead. In wet weather and when snow is on the ground, the boulder field is more than its usual challenge.
If you decide to turn back because trail conditions are not ideal for your group, know that Bandera Mountain will be there for you to visit on a sunnier, dryer day.
Be a good steward and pack out all your trash.
Information: For current road and trail conditions: www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs; North Bend Ranger Station, Snoqualmie Ranger District, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, 425- 888-1421; “Day Hiking Snoqualmie Region” and “100 Hikes in Washington’s Alpine Lakes,” both Mountaineers Books.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee. For other hikes, visit www.theolympian.com/hiking.