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Bandera Mountain

This trail is in extremely good shape and is well maintained. It makes for smooth traveling and is comfortably wide.

It starts out on the Ira Spring Trail with a very gradual elevation gain and winds gently through the forest. At about a half mile you will cross a creek (the only chance for water on this trail) that runs through a culvert passing under the trail.At about 2 miles it begins to take a steeper path, but is still easily handled by most hikers.

The trail starts to open up into spacious meadows and gives you great views of Mt Kent and McClellan Butte. After a long traverse to the east and a few switch backs, you will come to a trail junction. To the left is the gentle sloping trail to Mason Lake. To the right the trail for Bandera Mountain will take up the steepest section of the hike.

You will gain over 1000' in about a mile. You will reach the top of a ridge and have to negotiate a few mild scrambles over large boulders, but the panoramic views are well worth it. Then you will stand atop the 5,200' peak of Bandera Mountain.

Driving Directions:

From I-90 take exit # 45. Go left onto Forest Service road 9030. Continue on 9030 and then veer left onto Forest Road 9031. Road 9031 is a gravel road that is narrow and full of potholes. Follow 9031 until it dead-ends at the Ira Spring trailhead that accesses Bandera Mountain and Mason Lake trails.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 339 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Bandera Mountain, Little Bandera Mountain — Apr 14, 2014 — dbriggs5
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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I went back with a friend today to do Bandera Mountain after doing Defiance two days before. Beautif...
I went back with a friend today to do Bandera Mountain after doing Defiance two days before. Beautiful weather today and decent snow conditions. Snow became consistent at around 3800 feet. We decided to go almost straight up the main snowfield before the ridge leading to Little Bandera. We made it to the top of Little Bandera in 2 hours and began the ridge traverse to Bandera at about 9AM.

Watch out for cornices on the ridge! There was a well established set of tracks right on the edge of the ridge, on top of some pretty sizable cornices. We even saw significant cracks in the snow/ice below where well established tracks (likely from this past weekend) were. This path didn't safe very safe so we elected to stay a ways below the ridge for most of the traverse. Made it to the top of Bandera at 9:45. The views were spectacular so we stayed for about 45 minutes.

Two and a bit hours later after some glissading we were back at the car.

Used: Microspikes, Snowshoes, Trecking poles.
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Bandera Mountain — Apr 12, 2014 — Yassi
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Arrived at parking lot at 8:30am. There was 5 – 6 other cars parked there. No snow or major issue ...
Arrived at parking lot at 8:30am. There was 5 – 6 other cars parked there. No snow or major issue on the Road to the parking lot.

This trail starts with a road-like, well-maintained trail into the woods with some views. The second part is a combination of steep uphill and traverse which leads to Bandera peak. This part is out of woods and offers great view.

The first part was in good condition with no snow in the beginning. After ~1hr, I hit snow but it was not too slippery. The weather was sunny-cloudy.
Coming out of woods and out of clouds, I reached a breathtaking view in 1.45 hrs.
The steep part of trail, is completely covered with snow. I could only use the footsteps of previous hikers to find my way up to the traverse. On the way down, snow was starting to melt and made it less slippery. However, walking near the rocky parts, it was easy to get stock in a snow hole if not wearing snow shoe.

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Bandera Mountain — Jan 26, 2014 — HikerJim
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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I joined Janet, Gwen, and Karen on a winter trip up Bandera Mountain. My website is nearing 12 years...
I joined Janet, Gwen, and Karen on a winter trip up Bandera Mountain. My website is nearing 12 years old. Karen and her husband David have a hiking site nearly as old as mine. We have conversed online and at hiking socials but had never hiked together. The fact they live in Canada had a little to do with it. We remedied that situation this day. Their site is David and Karen's Hiking Page - We met at the Ira Spring trailhead at 9:05 am. There were already nearly a dozen cars in the lot. It was cold but not freezing. By 10:20 am we were on the trail. It was one more sunny January day in the Cascade Mountains. With the lack of snow so far this year we did not bring snowshoes even for a nearly 5200' summit. With the ice seen recently we did bring microspikes and crampons. It seemed very much like spring. bare trail and blue sky. As we ascended the temperature climbed noticeably. The near total lack of wind made it feel even warmer.

There was more water in Mason Creek than I was expecting. I slipped on very wet rocks and logs on the way in. On the way back it was much easier to rock hop. We reached the end of the old road and still no snow. A little farther along there were a few small snow patches. Mostly it was just bare trail. Part way up the long switchback to the left we did start to encounter snow. It was packed down by many boots, frozen, and very slick. Where we left forest and the grade steepened we stopped to put on microspikes. This was at nearly 4000'. Last summer's dead beargrass stalks are still standing. Lots of bare rocks as the trail crossed the talus field. A thin snow cover in most places. We were now above the forest and it was getting comfortably warm in the sunshine. We were passed or passed by a number of groups. most of them headed to Mason Lake. We stopped at the Bandera summit trail junction.

Much of the slope above was bare. The most consistent snow was in the trail trench. With microspikes our footing was pretty good. We made slow steady progress up this steepest section. The views were great and I stopped often to look behind us. McClellan Butte is just south. Mt. Kent on one side and Mt. Washington on the other. Mt. Rainier was well above the ridge. Just as the grade moderated near the upper ridge the hard packed snow became much harder. The spikes grabbed well enough those I could hardly dent the ice with a kick. From the ridge we could see north to Kaleetan Peak and down to Mason Lake. The lake was frozen though barely. Janet and Gwen put on crampons for the rest of the climb to the summit.

The open ridge quickly goes back into forest. There were a few spots here where bare trail showed through. Amazing for late January. The upper boulder fields were completely snow covered. Not thickly but covered. As hard as the snow was we did very little post holing. We soon mete a group heading down. They confirmed that nobody was on the west summit. The rest of the way was just walking up the spine of the ridge on hard snow. Great views in all directions. Just the way I like it. There was a light breeze when we reached the top. I pulled by sleeves back down and added a jacket. Even with the breeze it was a balmy 55 degrees.

Soon we were all on top. It was about 12:30 pm and time for lunch. One of our friends passed away in a climbing accident just a week before. Part of the reason for this hike was to honor and remember him. We had a toast to Franklin on the summit. Hard to imagine better conditions for a summit hike in January. From the top I could see Granite Mountain. My zoom lens found three hikers next to the lookout. Hibox Mountain was framed by surrounding ridges. The whole Cascade Crest to the north from Chikamin Peak on was in sight. Mt. Defiance and Putrid Pete's Peak were in sight much of the way up. With such nice conditions we spent nearly an hour on the summit. Looking over to the true summit of Bandera I saw a hiker on top. We chose not to head that way. At about 1:20 pm we headed down. We chose to put on crampons before leaving.

There were a few particularly hard spots where the extra traction was appreciated. Below the ridge the snow was much softer now. In trees it was still rock hard. We began to see a number of groups heading up. Many had on just trail runners. Going down the icy sections would have been no fun at all. With crampons we just walked right on down. We lost the route up as another route had many more footprints. It dropped down to the right (west) of the summer trail. It brought us back to the Ira Spring Trail higher and west of the junction. We chose to head over to the Ira Spring monument. It was so warm there that we all zipped off our pant legs and went with shorts the rest of the day. We had another long break sitting on the rocks as it was so pleasant. The views didn't hurt either.

At long last we headed down. We wore microspikes back to the point where we had first put them on. The ice had softened quite a bit but the spikes were still helpful. More groups were coming up though the steam began to wane. As we dropped down below about 2600' it began to cool markedly. Back at the trailhead it was long sleeves weather. The lot was mostly full. There were open spots but also a few cars parked just outside the lot. Quite a crowd for winter.

This was an outstanding trip. Good company, great weather, and terrific views. Hopefully winter will begin soon and I can get on to snowshoe and ski trips. Until then, it will be hiking to summits as if it were spring or fall.

I have posted 36 annotated photos on my website located at: Go to "Trips - 2014" on the left margin.
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Bandera Mountain — Jan 25, 2014 — Putz-in-Boots
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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I sent a message to a few close friends asking if anyone was interested in hiking up Bandera. This w...
I sent a message to a few close friends asking if anyone was interested in hiking up Bandera. This weird snowpack this year really sucks. I had a nearly unpleasant hike up Arrowhead Mtn the previous weekend and I've pretty much given up on a snow trip until...snow falls. Bandera was a new trip for me. I've done Defiance (same TH) years ago but never peeled off over to Bandera. I'd seen some recent TRs, saw the snow...ICE...conditions up there and figured it would be a good trip. JimK, Gwen, and Karen were in.

Karen, coming down from BC came by Friday evening and crashed at the house. Early the next morning we drove out to North Bend to meet up with Josie and Scott for an early breakfast at the Riverbend Cafe. Thanks Josie... It was nice to be with friends. Afterwards we drove to the TH at 2160' (exit 45 off I-90, then driving to the TH at the end of FS 9030) where we met up with Gwen and Jim.

Lots of cars in the parking lot at 9am. We figured most would be headed over to Mason Lakes with a few over to Bandera. We were about right. Boots on and packed, we were headed up the trail by about 9:15am. little snow actually down low. This time of year the parking lot should be surrounded, the trail covered. looked like Spring. This persistent series of inversions was just downright strange. Down low where it was colder (~ 20F) I could almost swear it looked like October if it wasn't for the lack of Fall color. The higher up we went the more it felt like late Spring or even Summer..temps at the summit of West Bandera (Pt 5157) were downright warm...about 55F.

We hiked up the trail which is in really good shape. At first, it's the typical road converted to trail. Long old road switchbacks at first and then after about .85mi after the trail crossed Mason Creek, the "road" transitions to real trail. Jim mentioned having hiked out this way years ago before the "new" trail was build, he'd described having some difficulty finding the old straight up the hillside trail in recent years. We passed right by it on the way up but found it much more easily on the way down, with it peeling off the left (north side) of the trail at about 3420'.

After Mason Creek the trail continues a long traverse somewhat mild at first (up to about 1.45mi from the TH) and then gets steeper for the next .4 mi (to 1.85mi from the TH) before easing up again to the first real switchback on the trail at about 2.2mi (3490'). Still no real snow yet. The were some isolated patches of ice on the trail (compacted snow turned to ice from all the foot traffic) but nothing substantial. A couple more switchback and at about 2.45mi (3700') were in the open looking uphill to our right at a bit of a boulder field and some of the first consistent snow/ice on the trail. Microspikes came in really handy on this trip. We saw several people on the way up and on the way down with rubber boots, what looked like river shoes and all I can say is...they didn't look like they were having much fun on the descent.

At about 3mi from the TH (4130') we hit another switchback on the trail (signed). To continue the obvious trail would take us over to Mason Lake. Instead, we headed nearly straight uphill on the south side of Bandera on a steep trail (covered in snow) that was headed up to the ridgeline. From the point we left the main trail (4130') to the ridgeline, it was about .19mi and 448' gain. From the ridge looking east towards Defiance and Putrid Pete's Pk, it clear...there really isn't any snow. It's amazing/astounding how little snow there was. We hadn't bothered to bring training weight on this trip (snowshoes) thankfully. There just isn't enough snow to bother bringing them.

From the point we gained the ridge it's another .42 and 565' gain to the summit of West Bandera. It's a really pleasant and beautiful ridge walk. One of the things I like best. I had wanted to head over to the real summit of Bandera but that's another 1.16mi and 350' gain (round trip). Most people were stopping at West Bandera. There was a boulder field to cross to get there and with the rotten snow conditions, we called it a day on the west peak.

We had the place to ourselves for nearly and hour which was really nice. I needed that. I'd asked everyone to bring their favorite brew and trail buddy (aka stuffed animal) so we could raise a toast to Franklin and remember good times. Mission accomplished.

On the way down we stayed on the ridge longer (missing our up tracks). This ended up being a slightly less steep descent back down to the main trail (highly recommend doing this). Since we were so close to the Ira Spring Memorial, we headed over that way for a diversion before making our way back down to the TH.

More photos here:[…]/west_bandera_mtn_tr.html

Stats: 7.5mi, 3073' gain (round trip).
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Little Bandera Mountain, Bandera Mountain — Jan 03, 2014 — senor montanero
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Beautiful hike! First on trail with fresh snow... ~4-6 inches at treeline. Without crampons or sno...
Beautiful hike! First on trail with fresh snow... ~4-6 inches at treeline. Without crampons or snowshoes, made it just above treeline where trail splits between Bandera route or Mason Lake route. Above treeline at ~4000 ft, the trail to Bandera is not apparent and is pretty steep. Bring compass or GPS if you want to summit and expect to put crampons on above treeline.
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Bandera mtn.jpg
Photo by "Resting Flower"
Bandera Mountain (#1038)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District
Roundtrip 7.6 miles
Elevation Gain 3000 ft
Highest Point 5200 ft
Mountain views
User info
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking Snoqualmie Pass Region (Romano, Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails #206: Bandera

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