Ben There, Done That: Granite Mountain
This next hike, suggested by Cat Hausheer, is one I've wanted to do for a while, but needed the avalanche danger to fade.
Granite Mountain offers spectacular views of the central Cascades; however, at nearly 1,000 feet per mile, you have to earn this view.
The trailhead starts out in the woods just off I-90 and is shared with the Pratt Lake Trail. After around a mile, the trail splits. From here, the trail steepens as you cut up a bunch of switchbacks. This wooded section crosses about a dozen streams as you zigzag your way up the mountain.
A good chunk of the trail parallels an avalanche chute. During the winter months, this area can be extremely dangerous, with a high risk for slides. With the recent warm weather, the avalanche danger is now minimal, and by the first week of June, you don't run into snow until around 5,000 feet.
As you climb in elevation, the view gets progressively better. You can see how high up you are on the mountain compared to other peaks. On a hot day, it's a good idea to enjoy the shade while you have it. About three miles in, the trees and water sources fade away. There's a somewhat larger stream that you cross which is the last place to fill up on water.
A short trip later, you’re on the shoulder of Granite Mountain. You break away from the trees and walk through a wide open meadow. From here, the view on a clear day is gorgeous! There's a view of Snoqualmie Pass and Mount Rainier comes into view along countless other peaks.
The hike is not done yet. The current winter route takes you right up the edge of a snow-covered, yet easy to navigate, ridge. In just a few short weeks the snow will be gone entirely.
Soon as the lookout comes into view, you get a sudden burst of energy; however, you’re still about a mile out, with another 1,000 feet of elevation to go.
Due to time constraints, we did not end up reaching the lookout. While there was plenty of daylight left, a KING 5 softball game waits for no one. Just a quick stop to take in the view and a fun snow plunge back down to the trailhead.