Granite Mountain

2015 Trip, Day 3: Monday, August 17

We’d heard a lot about Granite Mountain. Despite the steepness and difficulty of the hike, it is EXTREMELY popular, which is why we hiked it on a weekday instead of a weekend. We were not disappointed.

We hit the trail at 9:30. The first mile of trail was the same as we hiked yesterday on our way to Pratt Lake, then we branched off to begin some majorly steep hiking up the mountain. This trail is not fun. It is very steep in places and incredibly rocky, requiring patience and concentration to navigate.

The trail spends a lot of time going across and up several different avalanche chutes on the south face of the mountain, from which we started to get views.

The trail crosses a huge open and mostly treeless area on the summit as it continues to wind its way up. There were thousands of dead beargrass stalks from the fabulous 2014 bloom up here.

Our first glimpse of the lookout!

The trail reaches a flattish area below a towering wall studded with granite rocks. Cool!

Marmot chilling out.

While we were resting, a chipmunk started licking the salty sweat off my trekking pole!

The trail passes beneath the lookout before coming up the backside to the summit. You can see how this mountain got its name.

Finally at 1:30 we reached the top. Views, views everywhere! Mt. Rainier to the south:

Looking northwest:

Looking northeast and east. WOW. We had mostly clear skies, but could see smoke off to the east. Mt. Stuart was barely visible through the haze. (Click photo for bigger size.)

The lookout was built in 1955, replacing an earlier 1924 lookout. It’s no longer staffed, but it’s maintained by volunteers, who sometimes open it up on weekends. Today it was locked.

There were SO MANY chipmunks at the summit. They were brave and tenacious little buggers, and clearly expected handouts. This hike is very popular and I have no doubt that these guys are fed by hundreds of hikers every week.

At 2:50 we reluctantly started heading back down.

A peek through the trees at more mountains to the north:

Kaleetan Peak and Chair Peak towering above Crystal Lake and Denny Lake:

Down, down, down, the steep trail.

We finally got back to the car at 5:45, extremely sore and tired. Tough hike, but beautiful! 3,800′ elevation gain, 8 miles. We rewarded ourselves with post-hike beers at Dru Bru. We even got pizza, delivered from Pie For the People across the street. Delicious!

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