Mount Defiance - Ira Spring Trail, Ira Spring Trailhead, Seattle - Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass - Central Cascades, Washington
Mount Defiance - Ira Spring Trail - 11.0 miles
Ira Spring Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||11.0 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,200’ – 5,582’ (5,582’ max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+3,382’ net elevation gain (+3,928’ total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Mount Defiance - Ira Spring Trail - 11.0 Miles Round-Trip
Mount Defiance is located 5.5 miles from Ira Spring Trailhead, a more strenuous yet less crowded alternative to nearby Bandera Mountain. This newly built trail is highlighted by exceptional views and access to Mason Lake, one of over 700 lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness:
The trail rises steadily from Ira Spring Trailhead on an old logging road before switch-backing east to Mason Creek (.8 miles : 2,575’), a kinetic stream that can be challenging with high water. Once across it passes an old trail intersection (.9 miles : 2,675') with intermittent views of McClellan Butte.
At 1.6 miles the trail veers off the logging road onto singletrack and begins a steep climb up the mountainside through intervals of silver fir, Doulas fir, salal and vine maple. The trail passes a stand of noble firs (2.5 miles : 3,818’) before thinning with views of McClellan Butte, Mt. Rainier and the greater South Fork Snoqualmie Valley.
It emerges in open space and crosses a talus field on well-built stairs and paver stones (2.7 miles : 3,950’) to the Bandera Mountain – Mason Lake Trail split (2.9 miles : 4,190’).
Follow signs left for Mason Lake and Mt. Defiance up to a saddle and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness boundary (3.2 miles : 4,335'). Here it drops 160' on switchbacks into a damp forest and crosses an outlet creek to Mason Lake (3.5 miles : 4,218’).
Follow a sign for the 'main trail' branching left at the lake, which runs .3 miles north of the lake through a boggy area to a signed junction for Mt Defiance (3.8 miles : 4,285’). From this point it's another 1.7 miles and 1300’ to the summit.
The trail gradually steepens in a hemlock forest before clearing timber on switchbacks across open alpine slopes to an unsigned junction for the summit (5.3 miles : 5,155’). Turn right up the spur trail for a steep .25 mile push to the rocky summit of Mt. Defiance (5.5 miles : 5,582’).
- N47 25.492 W121 34.994 — 0.0 miles: Ira Spring Trailhead - 2,200'
- N47 25.534 W121 34.771 — 0.6 miles: Gentle climb up old logging grade - 2,462'
- N47 25.339 W121 34.522 — 1.0 miles: Cross Mason Creek - 2,684'
- N47 25.078 W121 34.090 — 1.5 miles: Continue up logging grade - 2,990'
- N47 24.996 W121 33.582 — 2.0 miles: Trail climbs steeply through - 3,435'
- N47 25.023 W121 33.441 — 2.5 miles: Continue ascent with southerly views - 3,818'
- N47 25.120 W121 33.401 — 2.9 miles: Bandera / Mason Lake split - 4,192'
- N47 25.323 W121 33.473 — 3.2 miles: Enter Alpine Lakes Wilderness - 4,337'
- N47 25.493 W121 33.300 — 3.5 miles: Descend switchbacks to Mason Lake - 4,218'
- N47 25.598 W121 33.055 — 3.8 miles: Defiance / Island Lake Trail Junction - 4,285'
- N47 25.929 W121 33.481 — 4.4 miles: Gradual climb through forest - 4,605'
- N47 26.033 W121 33.913 — 5.2 miles: Steep climb under summit - 5,162'
- N47 26.027 W121 34.063 — 5.3 miles: Cross open slopes under summit - 5,155'
- N47 26.125 W121 33.861 — 5.5 miles: Mount Defiance Summit - 5,582'
- A great loop hike can be made by continuing right (east) from the Mt. Defiance – Island / Pratt Lakes junction to Talapus and Ollalie Lakes, then exiting via the Talapus Creek or Pratt Lake trails back to I-90.
- A 19th century burned the upper part of Bandera Mountain and the forest has yet to recover. Silver stumps and bear grass fills this open space.
- The Mason Creek ford at .8 miles can be difficult with high water, especially during spring runoff.
Camping and Backpacking Information
The Tinkham Campground is located nearby for car camping. Exit 42 off I-90, turning right off the ramp, and proceeding along F.R. 55 to the campground on the left.
- An overnight Wilderness Permit must be filled out at the TH and carried for the duration of your trip in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Max group size is 12.
- Camp only at established sites at Mason Lake and stick to the main trail around the lake. A privy is located just before reaching the lake.
- Fires are not permitted above 4000' west of the Cascade Crest, or at Mason Lake.
- Fishing is allowed with a valid WA state fishing license.
- Contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for more information.
Sport | Commercial Licenses: 360.902.2434
Disability Licenses: 360.902.2460
Rules and Regulations
- A Northwest Forest Pass or $5 fee is required at this trailhead.
- A free day use or overnight Wilderness Permit must be filled out at the TH and carried for the duration of your trip in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
- Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
The Ira Spring Trailhead is located 3.8 miles from Exit 45 on I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass.
From I-90, take exit 45 (signed F.R. 9030) and turn left off the ramp. Continue along 9030, past where the pavement ends (at .4 miles) to a signed junction at .8 miles. The right fork proceeds to the Talapus Lake trailhead (Trail #1039). The left fork (F.R. 9031) continues to the Ira Spring trailhead.
Proceed on the left fork for 3 miles, passing a spur road that splits off right at 2.1 miles to a quarry. Arrive at the trailhead and parking lot at 3.8 miles.
The parking lot holds 35 cars; a privy is available.
Mt Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest | Snoqualmie Ranger District
902 SE North Bend Way, Bldg 1
North Bend, WA 98045
Reference Trail #1009