We hit the trail around 9:45/10AM and headed through the yellow gate, as...
Dirty Harry's Peak & Balcony
Dirty Harry's Peak & Balcony
Even though it boasts one of the most memorable names in the I-90 corridor, Dirty Harry's Peak remains relatively unknown. Or at least relatively unhiked. Which is great news if you're looking for a challenging route near Seattle without all the foot traffic that's typical in this area. Yes please. That said, don't expect manicured trails here – most of the route follows an abandoned logging road, which is certainly befitting, considering the peak was named after Harry Gault, a former logging baron of Snoqualmie Valley.
From the east end of the parking lot, walk past the metal gate on the paved road, and continue on the road for just over a half-mile as it turns north and then crosses over South Fork Snoqualmie River on a bridge. At 0.60 miles and 1,400', reach the unmarked trailhead on the right (east) side of the road. A large concrete block may be there to serve as a landmark, but don't count on it.
Head east on the trail as it widens almost immediately onto the remains of an old logging road. While the road is certainly wide, these days it's in rough shape, resembling more of a stream bed than anything else. Watch those ankles. For the next 1.40 miles, you'll gain about 1,000' of elevation through recovering forest. Keep your eyes open on this stretch, you may spot old rusted relics from the former glory days of logging this valley.
At 2.0 miles and 2,500', reach a faint spur trail that may be marked by cairns or ribbons on your right (east). This short trail (0.15 miles) leads to Dirty Harry's Balcony, a worthwhile side trip to catch an impressive view looking across Snoqualmie Valley, with the shark-fin summit of McClellan Butte dominating the skyline to the south.
Back on the main trail, the logging road becomes more steep and rugged as it climbs almost directly northwest for the next mile, crossing over several small streams along the way. At 3.0 miles and 3,200', the trail turns abruptly to the east. A short distance further, at 3.25 miles, look for a trail that leaves the main road to the left (north). This may be marked by cairns, but don't count on it.
Follow this single-track trail as it climbs in earnest towards the southeast ridge. Three switchbacks offer brief relief on this steep push, but finally, at 4.25 miles, reach the ridge and a direct line to the summit. A cluster of resilient fir trees have covered much of the rocky summit, but there are still wonderful views to be had: catch a peak-a-boo view of Mailbox Peak to the west, Bessemer Mountain and Russian Butte in full force due north, and perhaps a glimpse of Glacier Peak to the east. Granite Lakes are about 2,000' below you. Worth the effort, eh? Well done. Watch those ankles on the way down.
Permits & Tips
Discover Pass required (cash drop box available). No toilets or water available. Dogs allowed on leash. Do not drive or park beyond the metal gate at the east end of the parking not. This trail is unsigned from beginning to end, we highly recommend bringing a map and the written description. Mind your step at the summit – the north face is sheer and exposed.
How to get there
From Seattle, head east on I-90 to exit 38. Turn right at the end of the off-ramp onto SE Homestead Road and follow for 2.0 miles until you pass back underneath I-90. A quarter-mile further, reach a small paved parking lot. Park here. Do not drive or park beyond the metal gate at the far end of the lot.