One of the first hot days of spring and the first evaluation gain hike after surgery, I conquered the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail to the East Peak with my parents.
Located about 30 miles east on I-90 from Seattle, Washington, the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail is a popular, well maintain train that switch-backs up to a rocky ledge with stellar views of Mt. Si and the central Washington Cascades.
Hiking up to the first overlook, about 1.9 miles, the trail was like an assembly line, with hordes of people scaling up and down the path. It may have been a horrible combination of sunshine, Saturday, and the trail, but the slow-moving pace was frustrating and noisy. And while the lower trail is not overly difficult, I was extremely surprised by the people wandering the trail. From three-generation families huffing and puffing up the trail with toddlers in tow to groups of students and hikers with their little dogs, the trail was a hodgepodge of people trying to get out into nature.
Luckily the views from the first overlook well deserved the crowds. With 180 degree panoramas of the valley and cascades, the sky glowed blue and the sun reflected glimmering rays from the surrounding mountain lakes.
The key to this trail as we found out is to continue upward from the Rattle Snake overlook to the East Peak. Only about 10% of the people who hiked the trail up with us continued. Extending the hike an additional 2.4 miles escapes the crowds and quiets to only the sound of your boats in the mud.
A mixture of forested paths to open rocky ledges, the path to the East Peak was slightly steeper but well worth the climb. The last half mile of the trail though was still slightly covered with snow, so I recommend wearing good hiking boots. From East Peak we were able to see through the trees a contrasting view of Mt. Rainier on one side of the range and more open view of Mt. Si all the way to Mt. Baker to the North.
The downward hike was just as fun as the way up – at least until you hit the crowds and their little dogs.
Hiking Tips for that first summer hike:
- Check weather and trail conditions before you leave
- Find a pace that you can maintain
- Pack lots of water – especially if you are bringing a dog
- If your dog can’t climb the entire hike, leave it at home.
- Wear appropriate and comfortable shoes
- Wear layers of clothing. You might start cold, but you will warm up quickly and the top might be cold again.
- Stay on the designated trails and read the signs
- Remember your kid’s legs are less than half the stride as yours – make sure that everyone in your party is ready for the length and difficulty of the hike.
- It’s not a race to the top – Take your time and enjoy the climb.