Friday, May 30, 2008

Mt. Teneriffe (early season, some snow)

Quick facts
Driving distance from Seattle: less than 1 hour
Hiking distance (round trip): 14 miles (22.5 km)
Elevation gain: 4,000 ft (1,200 m)
Highest point: 4,788 ft (1,450 m)
Green Trails Map: 174
Permits: No permits or fees are currently required to park at the trail head.

This must be one of Seattle's best-kept hiking secrets. The trailhead for Mt. Teneriffe is just a mile past the giant parking lot for Mt. Si, yet very few people bother to do this hike despite fantastic views it offers (much better than what you can get from Mt. Si). Well, there might be some reasons for it---this hike is significantly tougher than Si: it's 14 miles long, the elevation gain is 4000 ft, and the last mile follows an unmaintained (but reportedly easy to follow) trail.

We did this hike in late May and, given the time of the year, we hit snow at 3400ft and several miles before the summit. The first 6 miles follow an old logging road. But do not be fooled: it's hardly comfortable. It's really steep (I do not know what kind of a vehicle could ever go up this thing) and very rocky. It starts gentle but after about a couple of miles it starts climbing up and doesn't really become any easier until you reach 4000 feet -- at that point the road loses a little bit of elevation as it skirts a valley and then it gently climbs up to reach a pass at 4200 ft. This is where the road ends. From there on, you need to follow the ridge east. The path (which we couldn't see because of the snow) starts really steep but after the first little summit it becomes a little more gentle. As you approach the real summit, bear a little right (south) and ascend the summit from that side because it is least steep.

View from Mt. Teneriffe[A spectacular view of nearby mountains opened up at around 3,800 ft]

The Manning and Spring book advertises good views at 3200 feet but we didn't really get any clear view until about 3800 ft. It seems that the young forest---growing in the place of the trees cut down in 1960's---has grown significantly taller in recent years and for most of the way one only catches glimpses of the surrounding mountains through the tangle of branches.

But at 3800 ft, the view really opens up and one gets to see Mt. Si with its Haystack, Mt. Rainier in the distance, and lots of other nearby mountains. We were lucky enough to hike on a day with low cloud cover so we were spared the uninspiring view of I-90 though we could still hear its faint roar coming from below.

Mt. Si as seen from the top of Mt. Teneriffe[View of Mt. Si from the top of Mt. Teneriffe]

From the summit one gets a full 360 degrees view and the sight of Mt. Si below makes it clear just how much taller Teneriffe is.

Driving directions
To get there from Seattle, take I-90 East to North Bend (about 30 miles from Seattle). Get off the highway on 436th Ave SE, going North into the town. When you cannot go straight any further, turn left on SE North Bend Way and shortly after turn right onto SE Mt.Si Road. Follow it for about 3 miles (after 2 miles you will pass the parking lot for the Mt. Si trail head). Eventually you will reach a school bus turn-around point on your right. The trail head for Teneriffe will be on your left: it is a small informal parking lot (big enough to accommodate perhaps a dozen cars) at an entrance to what seems like a permanently-barred former logging road. The map below may be helpful for getting customized directions.

View Larger Map

This hike is also described in Manning and Spring's 55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie Pass:

Labels: ,