Test your hiking skills by hiking Mailbox Peak Trail Loop and it would be worth the effort. This popular trail near North Bend, Washington is truly a hiking gem. Due to many injuries and rescues on the old trail, the department of natural resources decided to create a new, gentler trail.
The new trail is longer, but it’s an easier hike. It’s a 12.6 km loop trail with an elevation gain of 1,220 m. Some hikers still use the old trail and they go up using the old trail and use the new trail to come back, making a loop. It’s a challenging route, so it’s popular among experienced hikers. Other than the challenging hike, the best part about this trail are the views from the top.
Even though they have built a new parking area, it’s possible you won’t find a parking spot if you don’t arrive early. There is also a shuttle that would take you to the trailhead. It operates on weekends, and you don’t need a Discover Pass. You need this pass if you are parking at the trailhead.
You would begin the hike along Middle Fork Road. The initial path is paved, and soon you will see an entrance to the new trail. You have to continue past the new trailhead so you can get on the old trail. The first thing you would come across on the old trail is an information sign that contains the warnings. You must read the warnings and make sure to heed them. If you think the old trail would be a little difficult for you, you should consider hiking up the new trail.
The old trail starts nicely but then it goes from steep to steeper. You will continue to gain elevation until you reach the peak. This trail does not have wide switchbacks like the new trail. The elevation gain is more demanding as the trail is more direct. You have to be very careful and take it slow.
The trail follows a ridgeline, and at times, it just becomes a web of casual footpaths. The trees’ trunks contain silver diamond markers, which will help you stay on the right path.
Keep hiking and soon the old trail will intersect with the new trail. There is a signpost that directs to the new trail. You have the option to take the new trail from this point. Soon you will reach a talus field. You will climb using the steps, and when you reach the top, there are short, steep switchbacks, which will take you to the summit.
On the top, you will get great views, and yes, there is a mailbox as well. Mount Rainer is there as well, it’s the tallest mountain in the state. You should enjoy the views, hydrate, refuel, check the mailbox, sign the register, and then head down using the new trail.