Washington Trails: Mount Si

Posted by on Sep 4, 2010 | No Comments

Mount Si should be experienced at least once by every hiker. In fact, a significant number of Puget Sound residents do just one hike per year, and these annual hikers almost invariably turn to Mount Si every time. In the early spring, mountain-loving backpackers and climbers use the trail as a tune-up for the coming season. Others come because the trail is one of few that becomes snow-free early in the year. Land managers estimate that Si draws between thirty thousand and fifty thousand visitors a year, making it the most heavily used trail in the state. As a result, on any sunny summer weekend the trail will be crowded–almost to the point of having to take a number and get in line. Really, it’s not that bad, and the steep trail soon separates the serious hiker from the casual mall walker. And Si’s payoff is incredible: views of the Upper Snoqualmie Valley, the Puget Sound basin, and far beyond.

From the broad parking lot, the trail climbs moderately for 1 mile to the first views of the long hike. Here, at around 1600 feet, you’ll find wonderful views from atop a rocky bluff on the side of the mountain. Hikers short on time and stamina could turn around here for a modest 2-mile outing.

As you near the 1.8-mile mark, you’ll sweep alongside a small brook, with grassy banks on which to rest. This is Snag Flat–the site of an old burn, as evidenced by the blackened scars on the trunks of many of the old Douglas-firs in the area.

The trail then pushes on, never wavering from its steep ascent, until you finally crest the last slope and step out into the wildflower-filled meadow at the summit, or rather, the summit basin. The true summit of Si is atop the big rock “haystack” that towers over the edge of the meadow. The haystack does sport a scramble path to its summit, but the route is tricky, with incredible exposure (one slip and you’ll plummet hundreds–thousands?–of feet). It’s best not to attempt the Haystack, especially considering the added danger of other people kicking loose rock down, creating deadly missiles from above. Besides, the views atop the rock are no better than those you’ll enjoy from the meadows at its base.

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