Although the trek to Bandera Mountain is often described by locals as brutal and intense, the breathtaking summit views are well worth the effort. Built as an access trail for fire crews in the summer of 1958, the route crests two Cascade peaks and gains 3,000 feet in 3.9 miles. From the parking area at the end of FR 9031, head northwest on Ira Spring Memorial Trail, a repurposed fire road.
Less than 2 miles in, the route leaves the road, climbing sharply to a ridgeline overlooking Mason Lake. Turn right on the ridge and climb a rocky path to a 5,157-foot summit. From here, follow the ridgetop another 0.6 mile to Bandera’s 5,241-foot summit. Drop your pack and take in the scene. To the south, the slopes of Bandera Mountain drop down to the Snoqualmie River valley. In the distance, Mount Rainier looms over a sprawling, peak-dotted landscape. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Nathan and Jeremy Barnes, hikingwithmybrother.com