Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade II
Elevation Gain
3,362.00 ft (1,024.74 m)
12.00 mi (19.31 km)
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McClellan Butte is a very prominent peak that can be seen from I-90 sticking out like a sharks fin above the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. Although it may look tough to get to the top, it offers mostly Class 1 hiking and a final summit push/scramble of Class 3 and Class 4 terrain (depending on conditions). This peak was named after George B. McClellan, a surveyor and Civil War General. He surveyed the Cascade Mountains in search of the best mountain pass to be used for a transcontinental railroad system.

From the trailhead the route leads through a variety of old-growth and second-growth forest where there are huge evergreen trees that tower above. The trail is very well maintained, and ambitious hikers can use it as a good jog for mountain climbing conditioning. During your ascent you will pass several avalanche gullies (use caution when traversing during winter conditions). The final half-mile of the trail circles the southwest side of the mountain ridge where you will notice a large rocky summit block. Do not fret, as this summit block offers great handholds and plenty of places to put your feet to keep you feeling safe. This is some of the best climbing/scrambling you could hope for, though exposure is significant. 

If you traverse the final summit block, its best to wait for the rocks to dry as these rocks are very slippery. Some parties might opt to carry a rope and belay up during wet or snowy weather. There is not a lot of foot traffic on this hike, and access to the south side of the mountain is prohibited as this area is a protected watershed.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Washington Discovery Pass


Old-growth forest. Wildflowers. Great views.


Limited parking.

Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

1,800.00 ft (548.64 m)


Rock climbing
Bird watching
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Big Game Watching


Nearby Adventures

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
Snoqualmie Pass West

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington


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