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Seattle Trails

Seattle, WA: Putrid Pete's Peak

Exercise your route-finding skills on this steep fiver-miler up a little-known peak named for a Seattle-area mountaineer offering wide panoramas over the Snoqualmie Pass area.

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On August 10th, 1953, Pete Schoening managed to arrest the fall of all five members of his climbing party with nothing more than an ice axe, stopping them from plunging down the slopes of K2. In the mountaineering community, the event is legendary and is simply known as “The Belay.” In honor of Schoening, Putrid Pete’s Peak was christened atop a sub-peak near Mt. Defiance, offering stellar views of Washington’s cascades.

The route begins along the Ira Spring Trail #1039 following an abandoned roadbed for just over 0.1 mile. When the official trail hits its first switchback up the mountain, ignore it and continue straight into the trees, following a faint boot path. The trail is unmarked and unofficial, though well trodden and easily followed. Ignore the paths that branch to the left and lead down the mountain. Continue onward and upward, eventually breaking free of the trees and into rocky meadows of bear grass and mid-summer wildflowers.

The path becomes patchy and sometimes disappears in places, but keep heading up and you’ll soon traverse a minor ridge leading directly to Putrid Pete’s Peak. Clamber up the pile of rocks at the top and peer carefully over the edge into the bowl that holds Spider Lake. Look west toward West Defiance/Web Mountain, Mt. Washington, and Dirty Harry’s Balcony; to the north the peaks of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness spread out—on bluebird days pick out Mts. Adams, Baker and Glacier in the distance. The view to the east is dominated by Mt. Defiance with Bandera Mountain close behind; and directly across the valley sits the unmistakable horn of McClellan Butte, Mt. Kent and Mt. Gardener.

Mapped by Nathan & Jeremy Barnes Hiking With My Brother


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 3.8



Location: 47.424631, -121.583333

Start out on the Ira Spring (Mason Lake) Trail #1038.


Location: 47.426722, -121.586538

At the first bend of the trail, continue straight ahead on a spur trail.


Location: 47.426812, -121.587097

Junction with new trail construction; continue straight head.


Location: 47.428753, -121.592975

Junction with a trail that leads down to Tinkham Road (Exit 42). Continue up and to the right.


Location: 47.431771, -121.596538

Trail junction; turn left and up to continue to PPP. Going straight traverse to Dirty Harry’s Peak.


Location: 47.434749, -121.593795

Small stream, go up and to the right.


Location: 47.434613, -121.592348

Trail Junction; turn left and up the slope. Going straight leads back down the mountain.


Location: 47.439341, -121.586664

Summit of Putrid Pete’s Peak. To the north is Spider Lake, east is the top of Mt. Defiance, and Bandera Mountain. South is McClellan Butte on the other side of I-90.


Location: 47.424574, -121.583419

McClellan Butte

Location: 47.426461, -121.585479

Rest Stop

Location: 47.435229, -121.590629

Ridge Up

Location: 47.439119, -121.586938

Summit South View

Location: 47.439293, -121.586723

Summit North View

Location: 47.439351, -121.586595

Summit Register

Location: 47.439264, -121.58668

Summit South Pano

Location: 47.439409, -121.58638

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