The Bandera Plateau area lies along the I-90 corridor between North Bend, Washington and Snoqualmie Pass. Strictly speaking, Bandera Plateau is just the small area beyond the ridge on the north side of the highway, but the name "gets spread around" because it is on the USGS quads and Green Trails maps. You leave behind the traffic noise when you pass over the top of the ridge.

Busy Interstate 90 brings in a lot of traffic of all kinds. You will have to dodge the crazies and the joggers most days and hours of the week, but foot traffic thins dramatically more than four miles from the trailheads. Getting out that far is, unfortunately, not an entirely trivial matter, since the plateau is thousands of feet higher than the I-90 corridor where the trailheads are.

The state Discover Tax is required at the Mt. Washington trailhead for no obvious reason. The other trailheads all require a National Recreation Pass.

This is an urban-proximity area. Leave nothing of value in your parked vehicle!




Trailheads are covered from west to east, as one would encounter them while taking highway I-90 from North Bend toward Snoqualmie Pass. Trailhead areas are between exits 38 and 48. Trailhead are usually packed to overflowing and worse on weekends, and busy other days. Parking at locations other than the trailheads is scarce or restricted. Your best bet is to arrive insanely early.


Mount Washington

Approximately 3.1 miles east beyond the 468th Avenue exit at North Bend, take Exit 38, turning right at the intersection. The road very shortly starts to make a broad bend to the left. But before going that far, look for a poorly marked or unmarked dirt side road branching off to the right. Only a couple hundred yards takes you to a parking lot for the east trailhead of the "Twin Falls" valley trail, also serving as the trailhead for the Mt. Washington Trail.

McClellan Butte

Approximately 7.6 miles beyond the 468th Avenue exit at North Bend, take Exit 42, going right (south) and crossing the bridge over the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. (So named because it flow from the East.) The road soon curves left, eastward; follow approximately 0.6 miles, and then turn right at a marked access road to reach the McClellan Butte TH lot. There is ample parking. (Alternate: park on the right side of the road, just beyond the highway, before the curve, staying clear of the utility station fence. Once the primary trailhead lot of sorts, now just a dirty wide spot. Unmaintained, condition unknown, but the older and shorter route should still be passable, joining the revised trail immediately across a forest road. Expect brush, water damage, and collapsed foot bridges at small creek crossings.)

Ira Spring Trail (Mason Lake, Bandera Peak)

Approximately 10.8 miles beyond the 468th Avenue exit at North Bend, take Exit 45. Cross to the north side of the highway. The road swings toward the west, parallel to the highway, pavement giving way to smooth forest road, and smooth forest road giving way to worse. At 0.8 miles from the highway exit, stay left at the Y junction. Find the large Ira Spring trailhead at 3.8 miles from the highway, with facilities. Be warned, even though the lot is huge, it fills rapidly beyond overflowing on weekends.

Talapus / Ollalie

At the same exit 45 as the Ira Spring trail, take the right fork of the road 0.8 miles from the highway, winding uphill in a succession of tight turns 2.5 to reach the relatively small and insufficient Talapus TH. (Avoid this trailhead unless you are walking your kids up to Talapus or Olallie Lake.)

Pratt Lake / Granite Mountain

At approximately 12.9 miles beyond the 468th Avenue exit at North Bend, take Exit 47, and cross to the north side of the highway. At the immediate T intersection, go left about 0.2 miles to find a large but busy trailhead with facilities. (The right fork of the road is an interesting but slower alternative to reach the Melaqua Lake TH.)

Annette Lake

At exit 47, the same exit as Pratt Lake, turn instead to the south. Almost immediately turn left to the moderately large Annette Lake trailhead lot, with facilities. Activity varies, but typically very busy every day of the summer.



Trails in this area

Name Miles Obscurity Appeal
1. McClellan Butte 5.3 medium medium high
2. Defiance / Thompson (4.3 +) 4.6 medium high medium high
3. Ira Spring Trail 4.3 medium high medium high
4. Old Mason Trail (1.0 +) 1.5 medium high medium high
5. Bandera Mountain 1.5 low high
6. Bandera Plateau (2.8 +) 1.5 high medium
7. Pratt Lake 5.9 medium high high
8. Granite Peak (1.0 + ) 3.0 low high
9. Tuscohatchie/Melakwa Connector (6.0 +) 3.2 high medium
10. Windy and Kaleetan Lakes (6.5 + ) 3.9 medium medium low
11. Annette Lake 4.0 medium low


Other trails not covered here

Name Miles Obscurity Appeal
Dirty Harry's Jump Off -- medium high medium
Mt. Washington 6.0 medium low
Talapus Lake 2.0 medium very low
Ollalie Lake 3.0 medium low