Day Hike - Dirty Harry's Peak Trail

Preference to Olympia Conditioning Hiking Series course participants

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  • Moderate
  • For Beginners (Getting Started Series)
  • Mileage: 5.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 ft

Hawks Prairie Home Depot in front of Garden Center, 1450 Marvin Rd NE , Lacey 98516

Meeting time 8:30 AM, we hope to leave at this time so arrive a few minutes early.

We will need Discovery Passes, I have one so may need another if we take two cars.

My cell # 360 701 3588, I drive a red Camry and will wait outside my car.

The trail to Dirty Harry's Balcony spur off the route to Dirty Harry’s Peak. This side trail leads to a rocky overlook from which you can marvel at Mount Kent, McClellan Butte, and Mount Washington, the behemoths forming the south rim of the west entrance to Snoqualmie Pass.

Harvey Manning christened the eastmost peak of West Defiance Ridge “Dirty Harry’s Peak” in dubious recognition of Harry Gault, whose logging operations were notorious for both their devastating thoroughness and ingenuity. To this day, one of Mr. Gault’s trucks rests approximately 2000 feet above Snoqualmie Pass, on the slopes of his eponymous mountain. But to obtain a commanding view of the west entrance to Snoqualmie Pass, you do not have to ascend quite as high as “Dirty Harry” drove his truck.

The true trailhead lies along the gated road to the Washington State Fire Training Academy, but the gate closed to recreational users in 2011. Users must now park outside the gate, which now adds one-half mile to the trail, for a one-way distance of 3 miles to the overlook. Follow the access road over the bridge spanning the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. After going 0.5 miles, watch for a few concrete blocks on the right and a brown trail marker sign a few yards up the trail from the blocks. Turn right onto the trail.

The trail is one of Harry’s old logging roads, and the elevation gain is a moderate 1200 feet over 2.5 miles. The grade is tolerable and relatively consistent, though the tread is rocky. Enjoy a recovering forest of alder, Douglas fir, and western hemlock as you ascend, and try not to step on Pacific banana slugs, European black and brown slugs, and yellow spotted millipedes that cross this trail. There are two creek crossings, the second of which is more significant. It is 0.8 miles from the trailhead and requires one or two careful steps over a single-track log bridge. As you make your way, look for logging artifacts, especially rusty old cables.

2.8 miles from your car, you will reach a subtle intersection where the main trail turns sharply left, a fainter spur trail goes to the right, and a large cairn is piled around a small tree. An old, rusty oil can formerly marked this spot, but regrettably it has been pilfered. If you do see any artifacts along this trail, please leave them for the next hikers to enjoy.

Take the spur to the right. Follow it 0.2 miles through the forest. Near its terminus, it climbs over rock formations (no significant scrambling here) and deposits you onto a rocky balcony almost 1300 feet above I-90. Opposite you, from east to west, are Mount Kent, McClellan Butte with its famous rocky horn, and Mount Washington. Bandera Mountain is to the east. Take care near the edge, as this balcony does not have rails, and the drop-off is profound.


Dirty Harry's Peak Trail

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials

  1. Navigation
  2. Sun protection
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination
  5. First aid supplies
  6. Fire
  7. Repair kit and tools, including knife
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter
Trip Reports