Putrid Pete's Peak (P3)

Putrid Pete's Peak (P3)

Elev. Gain: 
3,100 ft.
High: 
5,215 ft.
Where:
North Bend, WA
Distance: 
6.30 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: 
Punishing
Rating: 
4
Wonderful 360-degree views. Primitive trail and I-90 noise.
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Features

Overview

Besides having one of the coolest names along the I-90 hiking corridor, Putrid Pete's Peak (P3) also sports a spectacular 360 degree view. Only thing is, you'll have to sweat it up hard to get to it.

The trail is unmarked at the start and nearly disappears towards the top. Sounds pretty tough and it is. Fitting though, since it's named after none other than Pete Schoening, the legendary Seattle climber who saved a whole rope team from certain death on K2 with the edge of his ice ax.

Begin at the Ira Springs trailhead and follow the main path for about 0.2 miles. As soon as the trail makes its first switchback (to the right), you'll see a faint boot path continuing straight ahead into the woods. This is your trail, don't miss it.

Continue on the easily followed path as it gains elevation through the second-growth canopy. As tempting as they may be, avoid the trails that go down the hill. Your route is up. At about 1.5 miles you'll cross a small stream. The stream will become your friend as you'll cross back over it another three times as you ascend.

At 2.5 miles you'll reach a rockfall with your first views south across I-90. Gorgeous. Press on, you have plenty of climbing yet to do. The trail climbs steeply to another outcropping at 2.75 miles. From here on out it's a scramble.

Follow what trail you can for as long as you can, climbing steeply through the last of the trees to the rocky ridge that will lead you up to the summit. This is a bit tricky without a marked trail, so tread carefully as you ascend. If you're lucky, you might have a few cairns to direct your way, but don't count on it. Take note of other distinguishing landmarks that will help on your descent.

Once you attain the ridge, P3 is directly ahead at 5,200 feet, the small peak between Mt. Defiance and West Defiance. Enjoy the views of four major Cascade volcanoes and everything in-between. On a very clear day you'll even be able to see the Olympics out west. Spider Lake is in the bowl to the north and McClellan Butte is the horned peak to the south. When we went, there was a small Otter Box with a notebook to sign. Feel free to indulge.

Permits & Tips

Northwest Forest Pass required. Pit toilet is available at the trailhead, but no water. Trekking poles are helpful for the steep sections.

>>Google Directions

How to get there

Head east on I-90 to Exit 45.
Take a left at the end of the off-ramp onto Forest Road 9030.
Go under the freeway and stay left. Road turns to gravel and at about a mile you'll reach a fork in the road.
Stay left here (FR 9031) towards Mason Lake and drive another 2.5 miles until the road ends at the parking lot and trailhead.