Mount Defiance via Mason Lake

Started at the Mason Lake trailhead at 7:15 AM. After leaving the logging road and heading north on the switchbacks the trail splits at 2730 feet (not shown on USGS, kind of shown on Greentrails), I took the west split (closer to the creek), which turned out to be the best choice in my opinion (more on this later). The trail was completely covered with snow by the time I reached Mason Lake. The lake was covered in snow too. The beaten path in the snow lead all the way to the top of Mount Defiance. I reached the top at 11 AM.

After a lunch break at the top, I descended the SW ridge of Mount Defiance hoping to meet up with the trail and continue towards Thompson Lake. But after descending 500 vertical feet I realized that not enough hikers have continued on towards the lake to leave a path in the snow. Visibility was bad enough that I didn't feel comfortable continuing on to the lake by only map and compass. I could have contoured east and met up with the trail, but instead I snowshoed back to the top and descended from there.

At Mason Lake I took a break for hot tea and to don rain-pants, then headed down. When the trail split directly above the rock field, I decided to try going over the rock field (which is marked "main trail") instead of the creek route I took on the way up. Man, the rock field is awful, there are holes in there that could swallow me, very slow going. And the trail afterwards is pretty steep too. I prefer the trail nearer the creek. Although hopefully the new trail will be better than either of our current options.

I was back at my car at 4:30. I didn't see a single person (or even fresh tracks) on the trail all day, and it was a Sunday.

  • Date:
    Elevation gain:
    3,384 feet
    Trip type:
    USGS quad:
    Alpine Lakes Wilderness, South Fork Snoqualmie Drainage, Middle Fork Snoqualmie Drainage
    9 hours 15 minutes
    • 3 hours 45 minutes ascending from Mason Lake trailhead to Mount Defiance
    • 5 hours 10 minutes descending from Mount Defiance to Mason Lake trailhead
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