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Friday, December 03, 2004

Hike of the Week: Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge
“You’ll not recoil from these striking views"

Hike of the Week
by Craig Romano
photo by Craig Romano
produced by Michael Fagin

December 3, 2004

Quick Facts
Location: Snoqualmie Valley, Mountains to Sound Greenway
Land Agency: Cedar River Municipal Watershed Ecological Reserve, City of Seattle
Roundtrip: 4.0 miles
Cumulative Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
Access: From Seattle head east on I-90. Take exit 32 (436th Ave SE). Follow Cedar Falls Road south 3.0 miles to trailhead at Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area.
Notes: Dogs need to be leashed
Green Trails Map: Rattlesnake Mountain/Snoqualmie Valley, WA No. 205S or as part of the “Tiger, Cougar, Squak & Rattlesnake Mountains and Mt. Si” Map Pack.

One of the prominent peaks of the Mountains to Sound Greenway, Rattlesnake Mountain is a familiar landmark along Interstate 90. With Mt. Si, the two peaks flank the Upper Snoqualmie Valley creating a western gateway to Snoqualmie Pass. This is the transition zone between the Puget Lowlands and the Cascade Highlands-the line of demarcation between urban sprawl and hills of green.
Once great providers of timber, Si and Rattlesnake are now cherished for their recreational value. Being a mere 35 miles from downtown Seattle, they’re highly accessible. And owing to good trails and good views, they’re well visited. But visitation tapers off when the days grow shorter. A mild snowfall (although rain is abundant) makes them ideal for winter hiking. Mt Si is well known and needs no introduction, so allow me to acquaint you with Rattlesnake.
The trail across Rattlesnake Mountain runs for nearly 15 miles, but most people only venture on the first two-to Rattlesnake Ledge. Comprising of a series of three rocky and precipitous open ledges on the eastern tip of the elongated mountain-it’s a thrill-seeking, vertigo-inducing destination. The first ledge is the biggest and offers an eagle eye’s view of Rattlesnake Lake-twinkling 1,000-feet directly below. The second and third ledges are higher and not quite as open-but boy do they drop off too! And they offer an eagle eye’s view above the prominent first ledge several hundred feet below!
When your eyes are not being drawn downward, gaze out at the snowy wall of peaks to the east. Admire too the deep U-shaped valleys of the Cedar River and the South and Middle Forks of the Snoqualmie River. They were carved by glaciers thousands of years ago leaving large moraine mounds at their terminus.
The ledges were formed by these ancient glaciers too. And perhaps they should be named for them-for there are no rattlesnakes this side of the Cascades. A peak misnamed-but one that shouldn’t be missed.

"View of the ledge from close to the trailhead"