Have you thought of hiking the Mailbox Peak? If you are a hiker or would like to conquer mountain peaks then Mailbox Peak is one for you. We hike almost all weekends on trails and can say that this is the best workout to stay healthy and fit along with family bonding.
The Mailbox peak hike is most famous hike among Seattle hikers in North Bend area. It is a strenuous day hike with elevation gain of 4000 feet to the peak of mountain where the Legendary Mail box is placed. Mailbox Peak is popular as a training hike for people planning to climb Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens or hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
- Round Trip miles – 9.4 miles
- Elevation gain – 4000 ft.
- Highest Point: 4822 ft
- Hike Rating – Strenuous and Hard.
- Pets and Dogs on leash.
There are two trails to Mail box Peak – the Old trail and the New trail. The Old trail also known as Mail box Peak Primitive Trail is more difficult with steep sections to reach the peak. The Old trail has grueling 4000 feet elevation gain in 2.5 miles. Due to the fact that many experienced as well as inexperienced hiker wanting to see the mail box were getting lost or injured, the new trail was made to reach the summit of Mail box peak. The New trail to Mail box peak does gain 4000 feet elevation but in 4.7 miles up one way to the Mail box peak.
From long time, I had been hearing about the Mail box peak hike challenges and difficulty level. Hiking the Mailbox Peak is not an easy one. One need to workout and prepare oneself for this big hike. After hiking Mount Si for 3 times with my hubby and my kid we thought of challenging our self for hiking the Mailbox peak. One fine day when Seattle was enjoying the sunny week , We decided to attempt this hard hike. Me, my husband and son were excited for seeing the famous Mail box. So we drove to Mail box peak trail head on sunny weekend day with temperatures in 60 F plus in morning.
Reaching Mailbox Trail head
When we reached the Trail head parking lot, It was full by 9.00 am. The parking has capacity to accommodate 40 cars. Overflow parking lot was full too. There were more than 50 cars parked on the side of the road making us compelled to drive another 1 mile down the street and park on the side of the road. This added another 1 mile for us from parking spot to Mail box peak trail head.
We lost 45 minutes in circling around parking lot and in a queue at washroom to get fresh and were able to start our hiking from trail head at 10.00 am. Always carry your Hiking Essentials in your Hiking backpack with enough water, snacks, protein bars.
Hiking the Mailbox Peak New trail
The first part of the hike starts with little incline wide walking trail with green trees, wooden bridges and stream crossings. Slowly the hike begins to pick up at a steady rate with semi steep incline and many switch backs. It was sunny day with warm temperatures but due to heavy tree cover in forest the trails were little damp and cool.
After hiking on the trail for about 4 miles, the New Trail eventually meets up the Old Trail and continue to the Boulder Field. At this point you will get the view of Snoqualmie Valley with Interstate -90 and distant view of Snowy Mount Rainier.
The boulder field is rocky part area that looks like a mountain of rocks. The Crew members from the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Washington Trail Association have made the best effort to create the trail that pass through these rocks. The rocks were well marked to indicate the trail path.
On seeing the boulder field, one gets a feeling of reaching the Mail box peak as we got. It proved to be a false summit. The dense tree cover line area of forest gets over before the boulder field. The next 0.75 miles after boulder field get steep with another 960 feet of elevation to go. This short steep hill climb was getting crowded as people from both trails were merging in to one and some hikers were giving up climbing the steep part to Mailbox peak. When we reached the boulder field it was mid afternoon and the temperature were in 80F plus. Heat and Sun rays were scorching and intense. Good cap, sun glasses and sunscreen were much needed for this part of hike after the boulder field.
We saw few hikers giving up and returning from this short steep hill. My little one was tired and we were thinking to give up. But after a short break we were determined to make it to Mail box peak and started the ascend of 960 feet. The last portion was very steep with sliding soil and small rock stones. Hikers were using all four contacts to climb up on ridge. The final section is hardest of the climb and seems bit tough for those who are scare of heights as me. I was not turning back to see the view as it was scaring me and making me lose my balance. Moving ahead when we catch a sight of mail box the destination, we were glad we persevered.
Finally, we made it to Mail box Peak and I am so proud of my son that he made to Mailbox peak while carrying his 2 liter hydration backpack with snacks and other stuff all the way from bottom trail head to the peak of mountain. It was clear sunny day. We were blessed with 360-degree panoramic views of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker and the Interstate -90 corridor. Mail box is famous for food, letters, poetry, cards and other sundry items that people bring with them and leave in Mail box.
Mail box was flooded with letters, things that people had left for others. My son carried his Transformer toy and we left the transformer in the mail box.
Mail box peak was crowded but everyone got chance to click the photos next to mail box. We spend 1 hour on mail box peak in which we enjoyed our sandwiches with the beautiful views of Mount Rainier and I-90.
Reaching the top is only halfway there and the way back down is 4.7 miles to descend. On the way back down for the first time we ran out of the water on our hiking trip. So always carry more water depending on temperatures and the hiking time. We came across a water stream, but we refrain from drinking the stream water.
For those who are starting this hike up in late afternoon must bring a headlamp and be prepared for way down in darkness or inclement weather. On Our descend We seen many people going up bare handed without hiking essentials, water or backpack. Never underestimate any hiking trail specially one like Mail Box peak. The hike was longer than they thought it would be.
As this hike takes an expert or well fit hiker to complete in more than 5 hours. I would recommend carrying plenty of food, water, hiking poles and headlamp. On a strenuous hike like this it is important to drink water , eat to stay hydrated and energized for the remaining journey back to your car in parking lot. No one would like to be included in list of Search and Rescue (SAR) team mission.
During our ascend hiking we were moving with normal speed with little breaks for few minutes. So it took us 4 hours to reach the summit of Mail box Peak. While descend we made back to Mailbox peak trail head in 3.15 hours. My IPhone data said I did 13 miles, 286 floors that day. Our legs muscles and calf were on fire.
It always seems impossible until it’s done.Nelson Mandela
At Old Trail head, there are sign boards that say “Mailbox Peak Trail is a very steep, difficult and challenging trail. Search and rescue teams are frequently called to this trail to assist lost or injured hikers. Please respect your own ability.
Mailbox Peak Tips and Resources
- Don’t forget to bring your Discover Pass, which is required to park. So hang it out properly.
- I recommend reaching there early to find parking spot in trail head parking lot.
- Wear good hiking shoes and carry hiking essentials.
- Take plenty of food and water. You will need at least 2-3 liters of water.
- If you start late in afternoon, bring a headlamp and be prepared for darkness or inclement weather.
- If you Park in Trail head parking lot, get down to parking lot before 8.00 pm otherwise your car will be locked in for overnight as gate gets closed by 8.00 pm.
- Find and read the latest trip report before heading for hike Mailbox Peak (the new trail) via WTA.org
- Find the latest trip report for Mailbox Peak (the old trail) via WTA.org
Driving Directions to reach MailBox Peak Trail head
Take Exit 34 off of Interstate -90. Drive North of 468th Ave SE for approx. 0.5 mile. Turn Right on to SE Middle Fork Road and continue for 2.5 miles. Turn Right and drive approx. 800-900 feet to the Mail box Peak Trail Head.
Mailbox Peak Trail Map
Public Transportation to reach Mail Box Peak Trail head
On Weekends and public holidays, to limit vehicle congestion in trail head parking lots, Trailhead Direct bus takes riders to three hiking destinations – Mail box Peak trail head, Mount Si and Issaquah Alps.
All buses are run by King County on regular fares. Hikers can park at the North Bend Park & Ride and take the Trailhead Direct bus to Mailbox Peak Saturdays and Sundays this summer.
Have you hiked the Mail Box Peak Trail or any similar trail that is consider as a Strenuous day hike? I would like to know about your experience. Please feel free to comment below.
Stay Happy and Healthy. Happy Hiking.