Take a short hike up a forested butte near Rattlesnake Lake, just 1.75 miles each way with 900 feet of elevation gain. Reach a summit with views toward the north, from Mount Si to Mailbox Peak, and several other peaks in between. Some hikers judge Cedar Butte to be a better viewpoint than the much-visited West Tiger 3 summit, and it requires less effort and has smaller crowds, so when you are ready for a change of scene check it out.
From the parking area, walk past the privies and informational bulletin boards, and follow signs to the John Wayne Pioneer Trail / Iron Horse State Park. The former railroad grade is wide and graveled, and gets some traffic from mountain bikers. The first part of the trail borders the Cedar River Watershed (a City of Seattle drinking water source,) and frequent signs threaten dire consequences to any who trespass there. In a similar tone, pet owners are alerted that the leash law is strictly enforced ($87 fine.)
In less than a mile from the trailhead, cross Boxley Creek on a bridge edged with heavy wire mesh siding. About 100 feet beyond the bridge, a wide area on the right looks like it could lead to a trail, but that's not it. Continue on another 200 yards and find the signed Cedar Butte Trail on the right. The Green Trails map 205S (2004 edition) indicates this is Department of Natural Resources Land, but the sign at the beginning of the trail says it is part of Olallie State Park. (Perhaps state agency boundaries have changed.)
Follow the Cedar Butte Trail uphill and, in about 0.3 miles, come to an unsigned trail fork. Both branches lead to Cedar Butte, but the left fork is more direct. The right fork is about a half-mile longer, and detours past the site of the "Boxley Blowout," a 1918 power dam failure that destroyed the logging community of Edgewick, with no fatalities. For more information, see the History Link site.
Only the left branch of the Cedar Butte Trail is shown on the Green Trails Map. The two branches reconnect at the signed Saddle Junction, and the trail continues on, via several switchbacks, toward the summit. Near the top, you might get a glimpse of Rattlesnake Lake through the trees.
On the final approach to the summit, the trail narrows and follows along the upper edge of the steep north face of Cedar Butte. At the summit there are two very low log seats, and a USGS Bench Mark from 1937 stamped with the imaginative spelling "Ceder Butt."
The summit is forested, but there are views out toward the north looking up the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, with Mount Si, Mount Teneriffe, Green Mountain, Russian Butte and Mailbox Peak all visible.
When you are ready to descend, note a small sign with an arrow that points out an alternative trail. It avoids the narrow section along the steep north face of the butte, and soon rejoins the main trail. (But, unless the upcoming trail is crowded, this is just an option, and you might as well descend the main trail.)
Return to the trailhead the way you came or, if you feel like exploring when you get back to Saddle Junction, consider taking the trail branch you did not arrive on.
- 3.5 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 900 feet
- Highest Point
- 1,880 feet
Hiking Cedar Butte
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.4325, -121.7663 Open in Google Maps