Mailbox Peak Trail

North Bend, Washington

Trailhead just past where the SE Middle Fork Rd pavement ends

I could highlight any of a number of hiking trails in the Cascades east of North Bend, but if you're a serious hiker who wants to prove your stamina, I recommend the trail up to Mailbox Peak. The trail isn't all that long, only about 2.3 miles from the trailhead to the peak. It starts off easy enough, too. Take an old forestry road for a half mile from the parking area and then turn left at the sign marking the trailhead. Hike for for a bit along a trail that gains only a couple hundred feet elevation. Then the fun begins. Over the next two miles, the hike is relentlessly uphill, climbing more than 1500 feet each mile for a total elevation gain of about 3800 feet from trailhead to summit.

Once you get above the trees, the views are fantastic and include the summit of Mt. Rainier about 45 miles away. The Snoqualmie Valley lies before you, and Mt. Si is in view just across the valley. And during mid-summer the upper elevations are covered in wildflowers.

So why do they call it Mailbox Peak? Because some hikers installed a mailbox at the top. Someone carried a fire hydrant up there, too. Why? I don't know. Apparently merely hiking such a trail wasn't enough for some people.

UPDATE: In September 2014 a new Mailbox Peak Trail opened up. The trailhead is much closer to the parking area. Because of switchbacks the new trail is a lot less steep, but it's also much longer at 4.7 miles from trailhead to peak. Apparently the state spent $580K for these improvements. I'm actually a bit disappointed with this. There are lots of hiking trails in that area providing plenty of options for all hiking and fitness levels, after all, so I don't think it was necessary to make one of the more challenging hikes in the area a lot easier, certainly not for that amount of money.

Fortunately, the original Mailbox Peak Trail is still available. And the new route overlaps the original trail for the final 1200 feet or so, which is where I took the 2nd and 3rd pictures, below.

mailbox peak trail view of mt. rainier

View of Mt. Rainier (Z05A0023)
Distant Mt. Rainier comes into view as hikers come out of the trees.

mailbox peak trail wildflowers

Wildflowers on the Steep Slopes (Z05A0024)
Distracted by all the wildflowers in bloom, you might not even notice how steep the trail is.

mailbox peak trail wildflowers

Wildflowers Along the Trail (Z05A0025)
Indian Paintbrush and other colorful flowers cover much of the mountainside above the trees in mid-summer.

mailbox peak trail summit

Mailbox Peak Summit (Z05A0026)
Early explorers found a mailbox at the summit and decided to name it Mailbox Peak.

Nearby Sights

While you're in the area, check out these sights:

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