The third time was a charm today. After two previous attempts were aborted due to lack of daylight and weather, I finally made it to the summit of Mount Washington. Better yet, I was able to traverse two different paths today which will help me on future visits to the area.
The peak of Mount Washington stands 4433 feet high according to my GPS receiver (my Green Trails map doesn't list the elevation on it). The trailhead is located off I-90 exit 38 at 1275 feet, making this a nice 3200 foot climb. The most direct trail is about 4 miles; the longer route will take a full six.
From the trailhead, climb up to the John Wayne Trail and head west about 500 feet. There is an unmarked trailhead on the left to start your ascent. At about two miles and 2800 feet elevation you will reach Susan's Owl Hike Spot. Not sure why it's named this but that will make for a good Google exercise someday.
About a third of a mile past Susan's Owl Hike Spot you will reach a junction. This is where you choose how you want to ascend Mount Washington. Going left will take you to the summit via the Great Wall Traill, which takes you up through logging roads, around the east side of the eastern summit (part of Mount Washington but not considered "the peak"), along the Great Wall, along the Cedar River Watershed, and finally to the final ascent to the Mount Washington summit. I estimate its about 3.5 miles from this point to the summit. Staying right will take a more direct, but steeper, ascent, over a mile and half or so. This is the way I took. This part of the trail is not entirely listed on the trail maps, but you can tell where its taking you if you look at your map closely.
This new trail connects up to an older trail, then, at about 3600 feet elevation, starts you up a steep 800 foot trail to the west summit. Along this route you are treated with continuous views of the eastern summit, Mailbox Peak, Mount Si, and down the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River.
On this particular day, I encountered snow starting at about 3200 feet, and was able to ascend without snowshoes or metal cleats. It made the views more beautiful and the physical workout that much more challenging!
At the top you are treated to views of Mount Rainier, Chester Morse Lake, Bellevue, Mount Si, Mailbox Peak, McClellan Butte, and a wonderful view of the cascades between the South Ridge of the I-90 corridor and Mount Rainier.
To make the descent I chose the Great Wall Trail. On the ascent I saw the Great Wall, and just had to traverse it. Again, it was entirely snow covered, and it certainly was a long descent - took a full three hours to get down this way.
That straight line is the "Great Wall"; the east summit of Mount Washington is on the left. McClellan Butte is in the background.
Beautiful shot of Mount Rainier on this beautiful day.
Chester Morse Lake in the foreground.