Good evening or morning run on perfect Summer or Fall day (for views). Close to home: Exit 45 off I-90.
Out and Back: ~12 miles
Running time: 3-4 hours
Starting elevation: 2200 feet
High point: 5240 feet for Bandera Mtn and 5584 feet for Mt Defiance
Elevation gain: 4500 feet
Best time of year: mid-June to late Fall (to avoid snow)
Maps: Green Trails 206 (above map is more current)
Permits: self-register at trailhead, Forest Pass
Only one trail leads from the trailhead. It switchbacks gently for 2.8 miles before the Bandera Mountain intersection shown below. Elevation: 4180 feet.
Bandera Mountain is a 2.4 mile out and back from this point (1.2 miles each way - steep blocky trail but well worth it).
From the top of Bandera Mountain you'll have this view to the Northwest of your second objective, Mount Defiance. That's Mason Lake in the foreground below. The final scramble to the Mount Defiance summit is in the open ground on the left skyline in the picture.
This is the reverse view of Bandera Mountain taken from Mount Defiance. The Bandera trail follows the open ground on the right skyline in the picture.(click on image for hi-res)
Jamie Keizer took this photo at Mason Lake earlier in the same week.
This is what the intersection after Mason Lake looks like. Left to Mount Defiance. 1.2 miles from here to the turn onto the summit track. Elevation: 4280 feet
The trail from the Bandera Mountain intersection and past this one to the final summit track for Mount Defiance is in great condition and very runnable.
After a cool traverse run the rest of the ridge past Dirty Harry toward Mailbox Peak will come into view. Round about here is a cairn (visible in the center of this picture) marking a well worn track to the right which leads to the Mount Defiance summit. Elevation: 5140 feet.
The summit track is steep but well used (don't prematurely choose an erosion gully, you'll know it when you see it).
This is definitely a blue sky day run. Early or late for best lighting for the pictures.
McLellan Butte looks tiny from the summit of Mount Defiance.
Looking West past Bellevue and Seattle to the Olympics.
Looking North you get a good view of both Glacier Peak and Mount Baker. This picture shows Glacier Peak.
Looking East, past the Alpental ridge in the foreground to Mount Stuart in the distance.
Mount Adams visible left of Rainier. St Helens is supposed to be visible from here as well but it was too hazy this day.