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Granite Mountain

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One look at the parking lot midday on any summer weekend, and the obvious will jump out and bite you: the Granite Mountain Trail is the most heavily traveled summit path in the Snoqualmie Pass corridor. Of course, there is a good reason for that: it's spectacular. But it's also steep. Mind numbingly, thigh-burning steep. You'll climb a heel-blistering 3800 feet in 4.3 miles to an old fire lookout at the 5600-foot summit, with awesome views in all directions. Pack plenty of water, as there is no good source along the trail.

The trail starts out climbing. You'll hike away from the trailhead parking area through a lush old forest and gain a solid 800 feet in the first mile. At 1 mile the trail forks. Turn right off this relatively flat trail for some serious climbing (to Pratt Lake goes left).

In the next 0.5 mile the switchbacks are easy, if a bit steeper. But as you near 2 miles the switchbacks get tighter, the trail gets steeper, and the breathing gets more difficult. At 4000 feet elevation you'll get a breather as the trail angles across a tricky avalanche chute.

Caution: Early in the year the upper mountain is covered in snow and ice, and the upper slopes are VERY avalanche prone. If you're here any time before mid-June (most years), pause before crossing the chute and look up the gully. If there is still snow above you, be extremely careful--slides can happen at any time.

Once across, the trail starts climbing again. If you time your trek just right, you'll find huckleberries alongside the trail all the way to the ridge top. You'll also break out of the trees and start exploring wide, steeply slanted meadows. Bulbous beargrass fills these meadows in early summer, and when those white blooms disappear, lupine and paintbrush color the slopes red and blue.

At 5200 feet you'll crest the summit ridge, getting a brief reprieve from the ruthless climbing as you cross a meadow. You still have another 0.5 mile or so to cover along the ridge crest and then up the summit crown, but the hardest work is behind you. Get to the top and enjoy the 360-degree views from the lookout--on some weekends, volunteers open it up to visitors.
Driving Directions:

From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 47 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek). Turn north over the freeway, turn left at the T, and drive to the nearby Pratt Lake-Granite Mountain parking area.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 623 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Granite Mountain — Apr 13, 2014 — KurtTheDirt
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes | Water on trail | Snow on trail | Avalanche danger
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Four of us summited with clear conditions, but difficult wet snow today. The trail is clear of sn...
Four of us summited with clear conditions, but difficult wet snow today.

The trail is clear of snow from the TH to maybe a mile after the junction, then it's up the banks of the chute, up to the ridge, which is 50-75% thawed out, and up to the summit. There are a few blowdowns, nothing notable. Lots of avi remnants from March slides, so we played it safe and stayed mainly out of the chutes. Two of us had traction, two with crampons/axes and we all wish we had had snowshoes.. a bit of postholing towards the bottom, but that's what you get when you leave the car at almost 4pm.... Had a beautiful moon coming down. Windy but comfortable, just us out there to watch the sunset..
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Granite Mountain — Mar 24, 2014 — spinningchick
Day hike
Issues: Water on trail | Snow on trail | Avalanche danger
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I left the trailhead at 11 am not knowing of the tragedy that occurred over the weekend. When I got...
I left the trailhead at 11 am not knowing of the tragedy that occurred over the weekend. When I got to the avalanche chute, I put on snowshoes but as the trail went back into the trees, I was not sure where to go. I started descending, but then ran into a more veteran Granite Mountain Hiker. I decided to continue ascending behind him with snowshoes. One other party with a dog followed us a bit, but he didn't have snowshoes and turned around now long after we converged.

For those of you who have not hiked Granite Mountain in the winter, be aware that the winter route is different than the summer route.

You should not cross the avalanche chute.

Once you get above the tree line, it becomes VERY windy (even on a nice sunny day) and very cold. It would be prudent to have a ski mask, ski goggles, snowshoes, gaiters, and two poles. Plus, bring enough clothing so that you can add layers at the top.

STAY AWAY from the avalanche chute!
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Granite Mountain — Feb 15, 2014 — Jesse
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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Lots of rain on the lower trail, but tons of snow up top. I put on my microspikes at the fork for Gr...
Lots of rain on the lower trail, but tons of snow up top. I put on my microspikes at the fork for Granite Mountain trail, and snowshoes are a good idea by the time you hit the avalanche traverse.
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Granite Mountain — Feb 02, 2014 — Surgataz
Day hike
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There isn't enough snow in the Snoqualmie area this year so winter hiking is easy and the danger of ...
There isn't enough snow in the Snoqualmie area this year so winter hiking is easy and the danger of avalanche is low. Here I am on this Superbowl Sunday, sharing the mountain with just a few other Seattleites who would rather be out in the wild than in front of a TV watching ads for beer.

I had a late start unfortunately because I was careless - I arrived at the trailhead by 10:45 but realized I left some of my clothes at home when I rearranged the food in the backpack. For a brief moment I considered taking to the trail without wool cap and gloves - I was later glad I did not - but then I decided I needed that stuff and drove furiously all the way home and back.

I started the hike at 12:30 which is very late in winter time, given that the sunset was going to be at 5:15. The visibility, which had been good in the morning, had decreased significantly by the time I was out in the alpine terrain. I decided I won't be going for the summit and gave myself until 3pm. Shortly before three I stopped, barely seeing anything ahead and behind me, and I prayed for a miracle to make the clouds part, or I'd turn around in that very moment. And what do you know! - in the time it took to eat a cracker the sky cleared up, the summit became visible and the sun was shining all over the valley. I pressed on in the frigid landscape, higher up along the saddle, with gorgeous views all the way to the mountains along the Melakwa valley.

It was very cold up there under the summit I had to switch to my medium-size gloves. As soon as you'd stop moving you'd get cold, but walking was no problem with only a long-sleeve t-shirt and a soft shell.
There wasn't much postholing, I was following in other people's tracks. I was wearing crampons, but snowshoes would have been more appropriate in that semi-soft snow.

Beautiful skies nonetheless I stopped the ascent at 3:20, probably 20 minutes away from the summit. Another 10 minutes down, that would make 30 minutes I would have to spend in the dark forest. They say you should never give up, but in mountaineering knowing when to stop is more important than reaching the summit. The mountain will be there tomorrow.
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Granite Mountain Snowshoe, Granite Mountain — Feb 02, 2014 — dbriggs5
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail | Avalanche danger
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Early morning day hike to the top of granite mountain on Super Bowl Sunday. We arrived to the tr...
Early morning day hike to the top of granite mountain on Super Bowl Sunday.

We arrived to the trailhead at 7:10 and hit the trail just before sunrise. Put microspikes on after the first .5 miles due to icy trail conditions, but nothing too bad. The first avalanche chutes on the trail were mostly clear, as was the trail until exiting the trees around 3800 feet.

After leaving the trees, the boot trail switchbacks up a steep snow slope to the southeast ridge. This is where we really started to notice the recent snowfall. around three feet deep at this point, the snow felt like it was mostly powder and we frequently found ourselves postholing on the way up. We were lucky to have tracks well beaten in most of the way up, so we used microspikes although we had snowshoes with us. Upon reaching the ridge we faced two options, break new trail and follow the ridge line up, or follow the boot trail which took a less direct route to the summit. We chose the former and closely followed the ridge to the lookout since the wind was little and we eventually met up with the boot trail a little ways before the lookout anyways.

At the top we found ourselves in a cloud with high winds and decided to head down after a quick snack. Getting out of the wind at the lookout can be tough. We also ran into two other groups at the top, the only other hikers we saw all day.

We used snowshoes for the descent until hitting the trees again. We also probably glissaded around 500 feet on the north side of the southeast ridge.

This hike is tough, but not too tiring if you get an early start. Route finding skills are necessary. Overall this was an excellent hike, despite the lack of views. I would not recommend attending this if you have little experience navigating and traveling in steep snow.

Start:7:10
Top 11:30-40
Finish:2:15

Pictures Below:
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Granite Mountain 1.jpg
Photo taken by @ziptiecloud on Instagram
Location
Granite Mountain (#1016)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Mount Baker -Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend office
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain 3800 ft
Highest Point 5629 ft
Features
Fall foliage
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Summits
User info
Dogs allowed on leash
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass No. 207

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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Red MarkerGranite Mountain
47.3979 -121.48605
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