The Ira Spring Trail is a trail that feeds several destinations along the north ridge of the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River, including Mason Lake, Mount Defiance, Banana Ridge, and Bandera Mountain. Take I-90 to exit 45, head to the north side of the freeway, then follow FS 9030 to the west. Follow the signs to the Ira Spring Trailhead, about 3.8 miles from I-90, elevation 2150 ft.
The trail has a gentle upward slope for the first mile and a half, then pushes more aggressively uphill for another mile through a few switchbacks, each one revealing more and more of Mount Rainier as you make your way up. At 4150 feet up you'll encounter a junction. Head west to make your way to Mason Lake, continue heading up to make your way to Bandera Mountain. The next 500 feet up are a killer, a rock meadow field at a 45 degree angle. Had to take a couple minutes of rest three times in this short stretch, but the promising views from the top kept me motivated!
You'll emerge from the meadow back into forest, and shortly across boulders as you make your way to the first summit. To the north on a clear day you will catch views of Mason Lake, Mount Baker, and the north cascades. At the summit, about 3.25 miles from the trailhead and elevation 5150 feet, the views are spectacular, stretching from Seattle and Bellevue to the west, to Rainier and Mount Adams to the south, to the Cascades to the east. Three views of volcanoes on this day, not too shabby.
The trail continues east a half a mile to the real Bandera Mountain summit, which is about the same elevation but will dip between the two summits. Having enjoyed the views here, and hearing that this is the best viewpoint on Bandera, I took a pass on going to the end of the trail.
Mount Rainier from the first summit.
Mount Adams peeking through the Cascades.
Mount Baker emerging from the clouds
Seattle as viewed from Bandera Mountain