Mt. Defiance, Mt. Baker National Forest-Snoqualmie Trip Report
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September 24, 2003
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Driving Directions: Via the Mason Lake Trailhead: From Seattle, take I-90 E to exit 45. Cross over the freeway and take road 9030 to a junction about 1 mile down the road. Follow road 9031 to the left for another 3 miles until the trailhead is reached at the end of the road.
TrailNotes:This was a wonderful day for a hike. I set out from Seattle around 9am and got underway around 10. Didn't see many people on the trail, other than some grey doves on the way up towards Mason Lake. I have to admit I was really impressed that these 80 year old women were making the effort to go to Mason lake. I asked them how long they had been hiking and was told all their lives.
The new trail to Mason Lake makes the climb much more pleasent than the older trail. The worst of the climb I find is the part right before beginning the new trail section. Something about the grade just doesn't agree with me. That said it was about an hour to Mason lake were only a few people were relaxing. Continuing on towards Mt. Defiance I was quite eager, having been turned away on the Mt. Pratt hike where I just didn't have the time to make it. We'll the climb is as to be expected a little rough for about 30-40 minutes until one hits a level traverse across the South side of Mount Defiance. One should take some care as the spur, goat trail really is not well marked. There is a small cairn but one could walk past it. An easy gauge is to make sure you don't follow the traverse into the trees. If so you have gone too far. Once on the spur the grade getts steeper still for about another 20 minutes. Certain has a way of building up the lactic acid. Don't turn around here whatever you do because the reward at the top is worth it. A grand view of Lake Kula Kula, Mason Lake and the surrounding peaks it is wonderful. When I reached the top I had the place all to myself and spend a goodly amount of time sucking in the scenery. And on the way down...I saw no one!
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Reviewed By: Adam S. on Wednesday, August 13, 2008 @ 07:56:02 PM
This is a great day hike within close proximity to Seattle. The road leading up to the trailhead is in great shape, which is an extra bonus. Panaromic views await you at the top, and Mason Lake is an excellent place to cool off on your way down.
TRAIL DIRECTIONS: Follow the trailhead toward Mason Lake. The grade starts off comfortable, and then steepens about 20 minutes into the hike, going through the forest and past large boulder fields. Once you get to the top of this section you will see a sign welcoming you to the Apline Lakes Wilderness. From here the trail goes gently downhill, through a beautiful forest strewn with large moss-covered boulders. When you reach Mason Lake follow the sign that points to the Main Trail. At one point the trail splits off to the left and goes through some wet mushy grass...THIS IS THE WRONG WAY. Follow the trail to the right, parallel to the lake. Hiking time to the lake is approx. 1hr 30min.
Once past the lake you will come to a trail crossing. Take a left toward Mt. Defiance (a sign will indicate which way to go). You will follow this trail through the forest, hike up some brutally steep switchbacks, and come out in an alpine meadow. The trail goes through the meadow and across a boulder field. IMPORTANT: Shortly beyond the boulder field, there will be a TURN TO THE RIGHT that leads up to the summit. IF YOU FOLLOW THE TRAIL INTO THE TREES, YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR. The summit should be just 20 minutes from here. Time from the lake to the summit is also approx. 1hr 30 min.
Unfortunately, I missed the turn that went to the summit, and followed the trail into the trees. I soon came to a clearing and didn't know which way to go...I finally realized that this trail continued to the left. The trail lost elevation as I went on and became quite small and overgrown. I finally lost the trail at a boulder field that was mostly covered in snow. I could have found the trail on the other side, but at this point my legs had carried me as far as I could go. Luckily, I still had a beautiful views of the valley and surrounding peaks as I perched myself on a large rock and ate lunch. Where this trail leads to I am unsure of. I thought that Mt. Defiance was the large rocky peak to my left heading in, but now know that I missed turn to the peak and would have significantly made my hike easier if I had gone the right way. I don't know where this trail leads to but would be interested to find out (I could hear a waterfall or a running stream off in the distance)....Keep in mind, if you do travel this route, the flies are terrible shortly after you pass the turnoff to Mt. Defiance.
TOTAL HIKE TIME: 8 hrs (would probably have been around 7hrs if I had gone the right way)
PROS: large boulder fields, lush forests, beautiful "hidden" lakes, alpine meadows, awesome view at the top, road to trailhead in good condition, no bugs this time of year
CONS: traffic noise from I-90 during the first section of the hike, turn to the summit not clearly marked
Reviewed By: ST on Friday, September 21, 2007 @ 08:00:34 PM
Make sure you don't go into the trees instead of straight up the mountain on that last stretch of the trail. That right turn is unmarked, but it'll be pretty obvious. I almost missed it but quickly realized that it didn't make sense going into the woods and remembered reading smth about it on this website. Hike is gorgeous at the top, most of the difficulty is in its length.
A bit of everything
Reviewed By: Chupacabra on Sunday, October 30, 2005 @ 03:42:50 PM
Review: Defiance is a fantastic hike. The hike shares much of the way with the Mason Lake and Bandera Mtn. trail. No doubt you will encounter people on the way up and down. It snowed last night, and we hit the snow at around 4300'. The grade is a little less than average for the Pac NW hiker to Mason Lake, and then you spend about 20-25 minutes or so downclimbing about 150 feet and hiking some flat terrain along Mason Lake. Just stay on the main trail and you will be fine. We wandered off the main trail and got lost in a mushy grass meadow along a small stream. Once past Mason Lake, the trail veers north, and in about 5 minutes you will hit a branch. Left to Defiance. Its about a 45min. hike from here to the top. The terrain here is very nice to run on (if you want) and it gets a bit steep for 15 minutes. You hit a traverse and one gets expansive views of nearby peaks along the I-90 corridor. Right before you traverse into the medow, veer straight up, and the top is no more than 15 minutes away.
I gave it 4 stars because of the expansive views on top, varying terrain, and beautiful lake views. I gave it a level 3 difficulty because although there are not any 'very steep' sections, its a 5.5 mile hike and may take some time.
Enjoy, and watch your footing! Rolling your ankle 750' from summit is not a good idea!
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