go to the top!
Reviewed By: josh on Thursday, July 6, 2006 @ 09:38:58 PM
Review: The main hike is a nice moderate walk, that will get the blood moving in a couple spots - but nothing that the average person can't tackle. The reason I write this review is nobody has spoken of the trial to the top of Bandera Mtn., which spurs off the main trail about 10 min before the lake. You will traverse a switchback\ across a large boulder field as you approach the end of the hike, when at the far eastern portion of this switchback look for the sign marking Mason Lake (continuing back across the boulder field) and Bandera Mtn (going straight up the ridge). If you choose to go up be prepared for a very steep ascent up the ridge of Bandera mtn, the trail is more of a beaten path between large rocks than a waling path. After 1/4 mile or so of going straight uphill you will level out a little and continue following the ridge east, toward the summit. After passing through an errily dark and wooded portion of the trail, you are faced with scaling over large rocks and basically determining your own route up the ridge - you will occasionally see signs of a trail between rocks. Keep working up and the trail will reveal itself once again, and lead you to the summit - I beleive the summit is approx. 1200 feet higher in elevation than the lake, and only about a mile distance. You get a great view of the lake when on top and can see all of Mt. Raineer, the Olympics to the east, and the Cascade mountains for as far as the eye can see. Return back down after getting your fill of the view and go to the lake for a well deserved rest. This was an incredibly busy trail when I went (late June) and incredibly hot, so be ready to battle the crowds and being lots of water. Also when we arrived there were abotu 10 cars in the parking lot, and when we left the road out was almost blocked by the volume of cars parked on the shoulder - so hit this one early if you get the chance.
Strenuous when above 80
Reviewed By: Asvin on Sunday, July 2, 2006 @ 07:33:47 PM
Review: Overall, this is a good but not great hike. It was 85 on this day and it gets really really hot up the trail once you gain some elevation. That's because there is pretty much no tree cover for the 2nd half of the trail. Also the trail is quite dusty and my white t-shirt was brown by the time i reached mason lake. You get really good views of snoqualmie valley and mount rainier to the south. We noticed that some people were camping right by Mason lake but there were very few open spots near the lake (maybe 5 or 6) . So if you plan on backpacking and camping by the lake get there early!. There were a lot more people than I expected and the parking lot was completely full with several cars parked by road side. So this trail is getting popular. It took us around 1.5 hrs to get up and an hr to get down and we spent maybe 20 minutes there. Carry lots of water if you are going in peak summer.
Nice and Close to Seattle
Reviewed By: YellowDog on Monday, August 22, 2005 @ 11:58:22 AM
Review: It took us just 55 minutes to reach the trailhead from 520 at Montlake. Only 6 cars were at the large trailhead parking lot when we arrived (about 8:30 am), and we were glad to get the ascent finished in the relative cool of the morning. The lake was nice and set back far enough that there was no noise from I-90. We found a nice area of large boulders (including one that made a perfect back rest) to sit among and eat an early lunch. As we sat their a number of parties arrived at the lake, and many passed us going up on our way down. About 40 cars in the parking lot when we returned just around 12:30 pm. We definitely were glad to have started relatively early and beat the crowds. Do note that the trail has been seriously revamped in the last few years, so those trail descriptions in your old hiking guide will not have an accurate description of trail length/grade (We ran into a few people that were flummoxed by this!).
Reviewed By: B and B on Sunday, July 31, 2005 @ 11:11:57 PM
Review: This hike was fun. It gets a bit steep at the end on the switch backs but then it pays off due to the downhill hike to the lake on the very last portion of it. This was our first hike and it was a good day. Harder than expected, more bugs than expected. Fun in the end.
Great Hike, a bit tough for kids
Reviewed By: rebe in bellevue on Sunday, July 10, 2005 @ 10:23:09 PM
Review: I am 9 years old, and am training for Half Dome. I have already hiked up Little Si. Lake Mason, I think, is harder than Little Si, but both were fun.
Note from Mom: We had a pedometer on this hike and it was 9 miles to Mason Lake and back, not 7. Trekking poles would have been handy coming down. If you bring kids, they need to be focused, since the walk there is almost all uphill. Also, on the switchbacks, it is tough to find a place to pee off the trail.
Reviewed By: Mark F. on Thursday, June 23, 2005 @ 11:36:15 PM
Review: I really enjoyed going up this. After reading the reviews, I expected it to be as easy as Rattlesnake, but it does get a bit steep once you cut off the logging trail. However, it does eventually level out and once you get past the grunt work, the views are plentiful and amazing. The only drawback is the constant noise of the freeway. Near the top, you have the option of going right to go up Baldera Mountain and to go left to go to Mason Lake. The lake is about anohter mile or so away at this point, but only a quarter of it is uphill. You pass a sign that says you have entered the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, then the rest of the trail is a descent in Pacific Northwest fashion. You then encounter the lake. It was plenty of places to sit and admire and/or picnic. It was an awesome view. I started at 2:30p and made it back down by 5:00p, stopping at the lake for 15 minutes. I passed people on the way up though that said it took about 4 to 5 hours to make it up and down, but they took a longer break at the lake. I saw a lot of older folks as well, so I think this is a great hike for anyone.
Up and Up and Up and Up
Reviewed By: Greg on Saturday, June 18, 2005 @ 07:51:11 PM
Review: We originally intended to go to Mt Defiance, but upon reaching Mason Lake we were short on ambition to climb further. Food and downhill was sounding better.
There wasn't much variation in the up and up terrain so the only relief came from full on breaks.
Bring plenty of water or a filter for the lake. Nice areas to lunch once at the lake. It seems like our plan of going to Mt Defiance will wait for another day, possibly from entry on another trail head with exit on this trail with a ride waiting or car drop at the Mason Lake Trailhead aka Ira Spring trailhead.
Overall very nice hike just a bit more work that we anticipated. Actually I thought it was fine, the people I hiked with today are making me say it was hard.
We didn't start the hike until noon and we were eating ice cream Sundays at BurgerMaster at around 6 - so this is a short hike and a happy day.
If this were a really hot day we would have left early as there is much exposure to the SunGod. In this case we probably would have stopped twice for ice cream.
Cheers and Happy Trails.
Mason Lake trail
Reviewed By: Kuku on Monday, March 21, 2005 @ 12:41:12 PM
Review: We headed to Bandera Mnt/Mason Lake trail on the rainy morning of March 19, 05. Initially we planned on going to Bandera, but it was so rainy and foggy, that there were not any views from there, so we headed to Mason Lake. The Ira Spring trail is in good condtition. After about 1.5 miles the snow started on the trail, about 1 ft. We kept on going, though it became snowy, foggy and very windy. At they announced at evening news last week, "we officially skipped winter this season at the PNW":)) Well, the winter was right there, on the trail. The hike itself is not at all difficult, the snowy conditions made it a bit more challenging, but still it was such a pleasure.
When the trail started to descend to a lake, it looked so serene and peaceful there - snowy forest and rocks, silence and tranquility. The lake itself was partially frozen, there were few snow-covered logs in it. The whole scenery looked like a christmas postcard. I've seen this lake before in summertime, with lots of fish and tons of mosquitoes. It is definitely prettier in snow! We could not stay at the lake too long, for we got cold. There were some icicles hanging off the big rocks near the shore of the lake.
On the way back the weather was more "cooperative", there were no winds this time, but it started to warm up and the snow turned into a mud slush. Luckily, it did not get too slippery and we made it just fine to the parking lot. It took us about 2 hours to the lake, 1 hour down. I guess next time, maybe in summer, we'll make it to Bandera Mnt. You can view the pictures from this hike here: Mason Lake
Good winter hike
Reviewed By: jasons on Monday, December 13, 2004 @ 03:06:04 PM
Review: Overall this was a pretty good hike. The grade is never too bad so I think most people would be able to handle it. Apparently the old trail was much more difficult.
The hike has the advantage of a choice to go to two separate peaks, Bandera and Defiance if you get up there and feel ambitious.
If you are doing it in the winter like I did, make sure you bring snowshoes and you may even want an ice axe, or at the very least some good treking poles. For about a quarter of the hike you are extremely exposed to the wind and elements. During this part, the trail developed a pretty good layer of ice covered with snow which really wouldn't have been too bad except that the wind was blowing hard that day and had a way of throwing you off balance when you are trying not to slip on the steep areas of the trail.
Another thing is the trail gets a bit hard to follow when there is a couple of feet of snow so make sure you have your compass and a good map, I don't think it would be too easy to get lost but you never know.
All in all a good, quick, and satisfying hike.
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