|Date: Day length:||4/25/2013 8.5 hours|
|Elevation Gain:||3950 ft|
|Total Distance:||17 mi|
|Elevations:||1200ft trailhead3200ft Grand Prospect 3500ft East Peak 2050ft Rattlesnake ledge|
|Crowds:||very small except at Rattlesnake ledge|
|Weather:||Blue Bird clear skies|
This was the longest hike so far this year by a fair margin and on one of the warmer days of the year as well; needless to say it was a good workout. I was able to get started at the correct starting time (early in the morning). Going into this hike I was somewhat worried about navigation seeing as most the trip reviews described the trail as hopping between different logging roads and segments of trail. This worry was short lived, the Rattlesnake Mountain trial system is impressively well marked, too much so almost as all the signs have mile markers preventing you from forgetting about how far you have to go.
The First part of the trail wines through the woods mostly off the logging roads until you get to the power line clear cuts and Stan's Overlook complete with some benches and a picnic table, though without much elevation gain to this point the view is mostly of North Bend. Moving along from Stan's Overlook I Hit my first snow patches of the day right before arriving at Grand Prospect (view point). Grand Prospect its self was under about 2 feet of snow with only a slight bit of the bench sticking up where other people have undoubtedly dug it out for everyone’s rest and viewing pleasures and of course the info was snow free.
After Grand Prospect the trail became way less traveled, snowshoe prints from whoever came before were easy to follow. There wasn't snow solid to East Peak and the radio tower but the vast majority was significantly snow covered. Just before East Peak there is a small off shoot of the trail to Windy Ridge which was probably the most rewarding view of the day. The side trail to Windy Ridge was all knee deep post-holing made me happy to have gators compared to the mostly hard pack snow on the rest of the trail. Windy Ridge is in my opinion the view point from the 'top' of Rattlesnake Mountain because at the East Peak proper where the radio tower is its dense trees preventing any real views.
After east peak it was time for a pretty quick descent town to the Ledges. This was my first time visiting the upper Ledges (previously I had always only visited the first main ledge) and I felt they were much better than the main/popular. The upper ledges are both smaller and less crowded with the added bonus of a bit higher and looking down on the main ledge with people creamed together.
The trip back up to East Peak was quite a bit more of a workout than I had expected, I never anticipate the effect that hiking in the direct sun has on you, getting back into the snow and trees was a welcome relief... the car was even more a welcoming sight when I finally finished this outting.