You are here: Home Find a Hike Hiking Guide Mount Defiance

Mount Defiance

» REI » Amazon

A portion of all book sales from the links above benefits WTA and helps protect and maintain our trails.

Defiance is futile! This peak and its stunning views will amaze you. The long ridge spine to the north of the South Fork Snoqualmie River (the I-90 corridor) offers some of the steepest hiking trails in the Cascades, but also some of the best views. Mount Defiance gives you both, and lakeside rest areas make the thigh-burning climb well worth the effort. Plan your trip when the atmosphere is clear (right after or a few days before a storm--look for barometric pressure changes to clue in to weather changes). With clear skies and clean air around you, views will stretch across the breadth of Washington - from Mount Baker near the Canadian border to Mount Adams (and very faintly, Mount Hood) near the Columbia River and the -Oregon border.

Start climbing the Ira Spring Trail, following it as it ascends the old logging road and then the true trail toward Mason Lake. At about 2.7 miles, as you skirt above the shore of Mason Lake, turn left at a trail fork. Right leads down alongside Mason Lake and on toward Rainbow and Pratt Lakes.

This left-hand path climbs for 2 miles, running through forest and open slopes to an elevation of 5240 feet. You'll find yourself in a broad meadow packed with wildflowers and views. Those with no desire or skill to scramble can enjoy this wonderful wilderness garden, but those looking for a little more can push on.

A rough path runs steeply up the ridge to the summit of Mount Defiance at 5584 feet. From here, the views are as good as you'll find anywhere. Due north look for the snow-capped cone of Mount Baker and to its right and a little closer in, Glacier Peak. Turn and face west to see the South Fork Snoqualmie Valley running down into the Puget Sound lowlands and, beyond, the sawtooth ridges of the Olympic Mountains. Face south and enjoy the massive mountain that is Rainier and behind it, Mount Adams. To the west of these you might see the abbreviated summit of Mount St. Helens, and in the gap between Adams and St. Helens, look for the faint outline of Mount Hood (count yourself lucky if you see it). Finally, look east and take in the long ridge to Bandera and Pratt Mountains.
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.

Improve or add to this guidebook entry

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

Recent Trip Reports

Hiked here recently? Submit a trip report!
There are 232 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Mount Defiance — Apr 12, 2014 — dbriggs5
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
Expand report text Hide report text
We left the car at the trailhead at 7:00 and began up the old logging road to Mason Lake. Patchy sno...
We left the car at the trailhead at 7:00 and began up the old logging road to Mason Lake. Patchy snow started a few hundred feet above where the old logging road portion of the trail ends and the foot trail begins. At around 3700 feet the snow became consistent and icy as we made our way up the meadow/boulder field areas. We got a bit carried away ascending about 300 vertical feet above Mason lake towards Bandera. We then glissaded down to Mason Lake for a long break before we began the trek up towards defiance.

From Mason Lake up to Defiance we only had one faint set of tracks to follow so route finding became more difficult. As long as you find the correct ridge above little mason lake and keep following it you can't go wrong. The ridge becomes more bare at around 5100 and we finally cleared out of the fog to amazing views. Summit at 11:00

Coming down was more difficult since the snow had softened significantly. We used snowshoes until Mason Lake. Even with snowshoes coming down from Defiance was pretty dicey in this soft snow. A fall off of the upper ridge would not be pleasant.

Coming down from the lake we encountered other people for the first time, most likely all doing Bandera or just the lakes instead of Defiance. We reached the car again at 2:30 after negotiating more soft snow on the decent.

We used microspikes, snowshoes and poles but did not need ice axes or crampons today.

Read full report
Mount Defiance — Feb 01, 2014 — BigLance
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
Expand report text Hide report text
There was significant snow above 4000 feet. Some snowshoe hikers had forged a nice path the day befo...
There was significant snow above 4000 feet. Some snowshoe hikers had forged a nice path the day before. However, at the fork, the snowshoe path continued on to Bandera and I turned left twardo Defiance.

It is pretty neat being the first person to make tracks in all that fresh snow. The novelty of trailblazing through all that powder never really wore off. Mason Lake was pretty incredible. However, since I have never hiked this area, and was increasingly losing my way as I forged further in the snow. I decided to eat some lunch at Mason Lake and make my way back.

I didn't have gaiters or snowshoes, both of which would have made a world of difference as I was postholing up to my calves all the way from the Bandera fork to Mason Lake. Sometimes I would go in past my knees. Mason Lake was also noticeably colder. My finger tips got real cold and the hose on my hydration pack froze over.

Coming home and looking back at my path, I probably should have just gone to Bandera, but then I would have missed out on all that powder.

Equipment:
I wore mountaineering boots and used a trekking pole. I really should have had gaiters and snowshoes, but I own neither.
Read full report with photos
Mount Defiance — Jan 25, 2014 — Jim K
Day hike
Issues: Water on trail | Snow on trail
Expand report text Hide report text
Took advantage of the non-winter to hike to Mason Lake and then on to Mt Defiance. No snow on road t...
Took advantage of the non-winter to hike to Mason Lake and then on to Mt Defiance. No snow on road to Ira Spring Trailhead. Snow on trail at about 3500 but firm and easy walking. Drop down into Mason Lake icy so microspikes helpful. Climb up ridge to Defiance had 8-16 inches of snow, mostly firm, no need for snowshoes. Poles helpful.

View on top spectacular given gret visiblity and blue skies - from Baker to Stuart to Adams to Olympics.
Read full report
Mount Defiance, Ira Spring Trail - Mason Lake — Jan 01, 2014 — Marek
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
Expand report text Hide report text
Road to the parking lot is completely free of snow so getting to the hike wasn't a problem even for ...
Road to the parking lot is completely free of snow so getting to the hike wasn't a problem even for my very small car.
Trail starts off snow free and all streams were easy to cross. Snow on the trail started about 2 miles in. Once the snow started my microspikes became quite essential for the rest of the hike up (I started early so the snow was still very hard and icy).
The trail around Mason Lake was a little hard to follow. I did not try to venture on the ice as I could see many people did.
Hike up from Mason Lake to Defiance was easy going until I got to the meadows. From there it seems that most people chose a direct, straight up hike to the summit as opposed to following the actual trail around and up. That part was rather steep and very, very icy in the morning (I was there around 10:30 am). I had my microspikes on and wouldn't have attempted to summit without them. Way down was even worse (still early at about 11:30) - very hard pack snow, with just a couple inches up top soft enough to step into. I ended up switching into my crampons for better traction on the steep sections back to the meadows. Rest of the hike down was pretty easy, although microspikes were still a good idea to keep on.
Hike took me just about 5 hours up and down (3 up, 2 down).
Overall great hike in great weather. Breathtaking views on the top. Due to icy/hard snow conditions towards the summit extreme caution needs to be taken though (a fall up there would result in quite a long slide down).
Read full report
Ira Spring Trail - Mason Lake, Mount Defiance — Dec 07, 2013 — c. getzin
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
Expand report text Hide report text
The hike began with a brisk 10 degrees and sunny skies (dark when we arrived). The road to the trai...
The hike began with a brisk 10 degrees and sunny skies (dark when we arrived). The road to the trail head was snow free until the last 20 yards or so. From the trail head, the snow started right away but was fairly light (2 to 4 inches) for the majority of the hike. The large stream was almost entirely frozen over, all small streams were completely frozen. Thirty minutes into the hike I became parched, when beginning to sip from my camel-back I realized the tube had been frozen closed. Fortunately, I carried a vast supply of water and still able to open the camel-pack and drink directly from it.

Two thirds of the way you get to the lovely mason lake, which is frozen over now. We stopped here to test the lakes ice strength, we walked several yards out but decided that was risk enough. The temperature here at the lake was MUCH colder than on the ascent up to the lake.

From the lake to the top of mount defiance the snow reaches about 12 inches of depth. Since there has been no snowfall for the last couple days, the trail was very easy to follow. We simply followed the trail blazen by hikers before us.

The top of mount defiance held beautiful views on this crisp clear day. From the top we could see from Canada towards Oregon, as well as the Olympics, including the cities Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma.

Gear: We brought with us both snow shoes and crampons, as well as hiking poles. The only gear we really needed were the hiking poles. The snow was still too hard and thin to warrant snow shoes but not icy enough to need crampons.
Read full report with photos
Mt Defiance Norm.jpg
Mt Defiance Summit photo by Norm
WTA worked here!
2013
Location
Mount Defiance (#1009)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District, North Bend Office
Statistics
Roundtrip 11.0 miles
Elevation Gain 3384 ft
Highest Point 5584 ft
Features
Lakes
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Summits
User info
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Bandera No. 206

Improve or add to this guidebook entry

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

Map it
Red MarkerMount Defiance
47.4257166667 -121.584283333
  • BCRT 2013
(47.4257, -121.5843) Open in new window
Document Actions
  • Print this
  • Share
Get the Guidebooks

Mountaineers three booksSelect content from The Mountaineers Books' guidebooks is featured in this Hiking Guide. Sales of the books from this website help protect and maintain trails.

> Shop Now

More hikes » Hike of the Week
Diablo Lake Trail (Apr 17)

Diablo Lake

North Cascades

Follow the Diablo Lake Trail up and across talus slopes on the flanks of Sourdough Mountain to impressive cascading waterfalls and stunning views. This hike in the North Cascades Institute's backyard makes a great option for an early season hike in stunning North Cascades National Park, much of which is inaccessible during the winter and spring.

Get Trail News

Subscribe to our free email newsletter for hiking news, events, gear reviews and more.

What's Happening
Trails and Ales - Spokane 2014 Apr 22, 2014 Meet fellow hikers and raise a glass for trails!
GiveBIG 2014 May 06, 2014 Donate to WTA during The Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG event and grow your impact on trails!
Hiker Potluck in Vancouver May 28, 2014 Come out for an evening of great food, meet other hikers and learn what is happening on trails near you.
More »