Aug 14, 2008

McClellan Butte

As you pass exit 38 from the west on I-90, looking up to the right you'll see an rockytop mountain that towers above its siblings. McClellan Butte reaches almost 5200 feet into the air. Take exit 42, go south, then east at the junction a tenth of mile, and you'll quickly and easily find the McClellan Butte trailed. A Pacific Northwest Forest Pass is required.

The parking lot puts you at 1500 feet, so a 3700 foot elevation gain along a 4.5 mile trail awaits you. If you've taken a peek at the top of McClellan Butte from the highway, you can deduce that amazing views await!

The trail starts simple enough - a .4 mile trek up to the Iron Horse Trail, then a .4 mile walk west to the marked trail, then another .4 miles to cross a logging road. Once you get to about 3000 feet (about a mile from the logging road), its starts a steady, steep climb to the south side of the mountain. At the end of this steep hike (4900 feet up, 4 miles from the trailhead), you get your first amazing peek at Mt Rainier, so close it seems that you can reach out and touch it. At this point the trail levels considerably, and you only have a half mile, 200 foot climb to the end of the trail.

The trail end leaves you with views of Mt Rainier, the Olympics, Seattle (downtown is obscured by Rattlesnake Mountain), and Mount Si, as well as along the Snoqualmie Valley (both east and west) and across Snoqualmie Pass. If you want a view of Mount Defiance, Dirty Harry's Balcony and Peak, Mailbox Peak, and Banana Ridge, you'll need to climp another 125 feet up a fairly steep and dangerous rockface for the summit. Dangerous in that a fall will be fatal, but safe in that there are plenty of footholds and the rock is slanted making it fairly easy to scale, just be careful.

The top gives you a 360 degree view with no obstructions - McClellan Butte towers above its siblings. I took an hour and just soaked it all in.

Except for the rock scramble, this is a kid-friendly hike. And so far, my favorite hike and views to date.

Rainier view at the turn

The view east from the top

Mount Si as seen from the end of the trail. I didn't take my camera with me to the peak, as I was a little gunshy with the rock scramble. Next time, I'll be getting a picture of me with Mt Rainier in the background :)

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