Granite Mountain New Year Celebration / 花崗岩山新年慶

  • Reading time:4 mins read

Granite Mountain is a famous destination in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It’s just a stone’s throw away from Snoqualmie Pass, with other nearby popular hikes. The steady incline and short mileage also make it a hiker’s favorite.

Granite Mountain tower up ahead
Granite Mountain tower up ahead

See more trip photos here.

Granite Mountain at a Glance

Access: Granite Mountain Trailhead
Round Trip: 7.4 miles
Elevation Range: 3120′-5629′
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

The Preface

Granite Mountain is our tradition hike, together with the New Year’s Eve outing when the weather allows. The air is especially crisp at the top when the weather is decent.

Despite freezing temperatures, I still enjoy coming here on the first day of the year to avoid the mass. The pup and I arrived at an empty parking lot in the early hours. Then we started hiking at a quarter past 7.

Break of dawn
Break of dawn

See more trip photos here.

Granite Mountain Trail

A muddy start, we hike the trail, sometimes covered in ice. Shortly, we reached the Pratt Lake Trail junction. I had on microspikes from the get-go. But I didn’t need them until past the fork.

Snow quickly became slick on the steep trail. Then soon, we made it up to the first avalanche chute. There we took a break by the gully before proceeding.

Granite Mountain summit awaits
Granite Mountain summit awaits

See more trip photos here.

Skipping the South Ridge

In a heavy snow year, most tracks would turn around here. I thought about going up the south ridge directly. But there was a well-beaten path today. So I decided to make use of it without needing to carve out a path.

The path took us through two more snow gullies before going out of the forest. Then I changed to snowshoes at 4200′ in the open terrain. Shortly, we followed recent tracks as the scenery began to form.

Northeastern panoramic view
Northeastern panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Southeast Ridge

We reached the southeast ridge at 5200′. Then we walked on the crest up toward the lookout tower. It tends to blow southeast wind around this time. So the ridgeline is where we would feel the gusts if any.

Slowly, soft snow became ice below the tower. So the final walk-up felt less arduous and more enjoyable. It’s also less windy here for some reason. But the wind speed grew the minute we stepped onto the summit.

Southwestern panoramic view
Southwestern panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Granite Mountain with Views

We took cover behind the trees because of the constant gusts. The sun had been out for a while now. But the windchill had brought the temperatures down to the low to mid-20s. The coldness didn’t keep the pup from rolling in the snow to pass the time.

The views were great, as always when the weather is decent. Dark clouds have long shrouded Mount Rainier, so it wasn’t visible at all. We spent one and a half hours on top. Then we left the empty summit afterward.

Traversing the northwest ridge
Traversing the northwest ridge

See more trip photos here.

Onward to Tusk O’Granite

Using last year‘s route, we went down the northwest ridge. Then we traversed just over half a mile to Tusk O’Granite. By staying on the ridge crest, we could bypass the steep and icy southern slopes entirely. But it was still windy.

Soon, we reached the woodsy saddle below Tusk O’Granite. Then we took a short break to avoid the wind. Later we broke trail in fresh powder and climbed the final 400′ on the east ridge up to the top.

This way to back Granite Mountain
This way to back Granite Mountain

See more trip photos here.

The Windy Tusk O’Granite

We didn’t stay long on this summit. It was way too windy to want to enjoy the gorgeous views. So we quickly looked around the top and then went down the south ridge.

We moved south on the ridgeline in a mixture of snow and ice. Later we saw tracks coming from below that looked to have turned around by the flat area. So we followed the trails down the southern slopes.

Outro
Outro

See more trip photos here.

Outro

After losing 1700′ of elevation, we went out onto the Pratt Lake Trail. Then we took a short break by the stream before proceeding. Later we hiked back to the Granite Mountain Trail junction.

Two dozen cars were in the lot when we reached the trailhead in the early afternoon.

Unnamed creek in the PM
Unnamed creek in the PM

See more trip photos here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.