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Little Bandera Mountain

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Bandera may be the most overlooked mountain in the Snoqualmie Pass region. Granite Mountain, Mount Defiance, and McClellan Butte all get more traffic, though the climb to Bandera offers all the same great features you'll find on those routes--with far fewer people to crowd you off the trail. Grand views, beautiful wildflowers, delicious berries, and a wonderful path through the wilderness await you here.

Start climbing the Ira Spring Trail, following it as it ascends the old logging road, and then pass the true trail toward Mason Lake. Continue along the old road as it traverses the slope until about the 2-mile mark, where the way turns steep. Follow this road-turned-trail as it runs straight up to the ridge spine leading toward Bandera Mountain.

Once on the ridge, the trail rolls up the spine through the high alpine forest and across granite slopes to the summit of Little Bandera at 5050 feet, nearly 3.5 miles out. Stop here for a long pause and enjoy the panoramic views. These are views equal to any you'll find in the region, sweeping in the entire western face of the Cascades north to south.
Driving Directions:

From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 45 (Forest Road 9030). Drive north, then stay left on FR 9030. About 1 mile from the freeway, you'll encounter a fork. Stay left again, now on Mason Lake Road (FR 9031). At about 3.9 miles from the freeway, park where the road is blocked--the road continues on the other side, but only for foot traffic.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 43 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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Little Bandera Mountain — Apr 13, 2014 — SOTA Hiking Club
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Went with a group of four. We started off along the Ira Spring Trailhead at about 10:30. Since the t...
Went with a group of four. We started off along the Ira Spring Trailhead at about 10:30. Since the trail is wide, developed, and maintained well, the initial ascent was relatively simple and quick. We made our way up to the switchbacks in about an hour, and came across the first signs of snow shortly after. The snow was easy to travel through up until the junction with the Bandera Mountain Trail. At this point, we followed the footsteps of the hikers ahead of us. The snow was very compact, and we had no crampons, so we kept our steps heavy and kept from ending up slipping or sliding downward. The snow travel took a significant amount of time, but we gradually made our way up and took a break at the Mason Lake lookout. The final section to the Little Bandera Mountain summit was a bit less steep and was still heavily treaded by other hikers, so we were able to make it up without issues. We took a fairly long break at the summit, and began down the mountain at about 1:30. The descent down the snowy section of the hike involved tentative, slow travel as well as some purposeful sliding and jumping around. One could grip onto the snow when necessary, so any approach was acceptable. Once reaching the dry Ira Spring Trail again, we took a faster pace down, and arrived back at the parking lot by about 3:30. The sky was clear and sunny, so the trail was busy throughout our hike. It is clear that spring hiking is picking up, and that this is a popular trail to start the season with. Not many people were heading to Mason Lake or to the actual summit of Bandera Mountain, but those who were willing to follow footsteps in the snow could certainly make it to Little Bandera’s summit in casual hiking clothes. Overall, the hike provided a conventional wilderness outing with a bit of compact snow travel toward the summit, which made the trip both stimulating and calming throughout the course of the day.
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Little Bandera Mountain — Jan 21, 2014 — MV Jim
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Arrived on a beautiful day to an empty parking lot at 11 AM and headed up. The trail was in great s...
Arrived on a beautiful day to an empty parking lot at 11 AM and headed up. The trail was in great shape and snow-free until about the tree line. Above the junction with the Mason Lake trail there was 1-2 feet of snow and I switched to mountaineering boots, crampons and gaiters. It took me three hours total to get to the summit (including a lunch break) and 2 hours to get back down. Other than a few Gay Jays at the top I was all alone above the junction and I only saw two other hikers the whole day. I could clearly see Mt. Rainier to the south and also the Olympics to the west, over a mass of fog in the Puget Sound basin. Great Day.
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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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Little Bandera Mountain — Oct 09, 2013 — king
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Snow on trail
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I took my dog on this hike today. We got a late start and only made it up the hill (when the Ira Spr...
I took my dog on this hike today. We got a late start and only made it up the hill (when the Ira Springs trail splits) and to the ridge line. Near the top there was too much slippery snowy slush for me in my summer boots and with no poles so I stopped. Beautiful foliage, no bugs, trail in good condition. 2 hours up and 1 hour down. Note that the road to the trail head had a lot of deep potholes.
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Bandera intertwined beargrass.jpg
Beargrass on Little Bandera. Photo by Susan Elderkin.
Location
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend Office
Statistics
Roundtrip 7.0 miles
Elevation Gain 2850 ft
Highest Point 5050 ft
Features
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Summits
Ridges/passes
User info
Dogs allowed on leash
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Bandera No. 206

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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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