• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    5.4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    4200 Feet


Mailbox peak is an extremely tough 5.4 miles roundtrip. Once you make it to the summit, the view is simply incredible. 

Note this adventure covers the old route. For the updated route, check out Hike Mailbox Peak New Trail.

Take exit 34 from I-90. Head north on 468th Ave SE until the intersection with the SE Middle Fork Road. Turn right onto the Middle Fork Road. Follow SE Middle Fork Road 2.2 miles to the stop sign at the junction with SE Dorothy Lake Road. Head left onto SE Middle Fork Road. Take the turnoff to the trailhead on the right and continue a short distance to the parking lot.

The greatest reward is the joy of the effort itself and of digging deep within yourself to find the strength to conquer the mighty Mailbox and be able to place your name in the summit register. The register is contained – appropriately enough – in a mailbox someone installed at the top. The views and scenery along the way are few to none, mostly forest trekking. But once you break to the infamous Mailbox scramble the views of Rainier and the valley are UNREAL.

The way down is worse than the way up. Bring trekking poles. This is not an easy hike, it seems short but the elevation gain is 4200 ft of straight vertical trails. Put your name or a memorable note in the Mailbox at the top, there is a designated hiker who collects everything in the Mailbox and places it in the King County Library Archive :)

Pack List

  • Trekking Poles
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Day Pack
  • Hiking Boots
  • Lunch
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Overall rating: 

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The old trail is awesome. You get an amazing workout out in all while working on navigating skills through the solid 1/2+ mile that is washed out. The views at the top are beyond worth enduring the grueling incline. Please keep in mind this trail is used to train for people who are planning on summiting Mount Rainer and is recognized as one of the top five hardest hikes in Washington. That being said, always carry the ten essentials with you and bring a buddy. Happy hiking!

7 months ago
7 months ago

went up on Saturday, found parking in the main lot pretty easy - arrived by 8:00am. Cars were stacking up on the road, a few spots left in the main lot. be careful when parking on the main road. primarily due to inconsiderate hikers who will park anywhere and block you in. The old trail is steep but still in pretty good condition. very few people on the trail, mostly encountering folks jogging down. even though you are tired, you still need to pay attention to the trail as there are some offshoots that can be mistaken and get you off trail if you're not paying attention. Once you come to the old trail/ new trail junction the bolder field begins. pretty easy to follow the trail - from the boulders, you still have a steep 1/4 to 1/2 mile of trail to the summit - keep at it - you are almost there. Once at the summit....it was all worth it. It was pretty crowded, about 30 or so people at the summit,there was still room for pictures and finding a place to eat some lunch. while we had low clouds on Saturday, you could still see Baker poking her head out through the clouds.

9 months ago
9 months ago

I recommend taking the old trail up & the new trail down. Hiking poles are helpful - and mosquitos were biting me...so bug spray for sure:) I wouldn't start too much later than 1pm or so..

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Beautiful hike. It's around 9.5 miles round trip. There's lots of mud on the trail so get ready to be dirty. The most challenging section is one mile from the top. Bring lots of water and determination.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Never take directions from a woman. Hike is actually 9 miles round trip (GPS) not 5.4. Great view but watch out for the weather, gets pretty cold at the top. Just kidding about the woman joke. ;)

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Such a good hike, missed out on the 360 view but hiking in the clouds made it worth while.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

The 360 degree views are amazing when you reach the peak. I took the old (unmaintained) trail up by following the white diamonds. This is about 4000 elevation in 2.5 mi. The old trail then meets the new and the final push to the mailbox begins. With 1/2 mile left, you will be challenged with a steep elevation gain of approximately 1000 ft. Come prepared. Bring Water and extra food. Trekking poles are a great help on the way down!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Start early and beat the crowds. With the new trail, there are lots of people at the top. The old trail is a great trainer for more serious peaks in the cascade. Recommend descending the new trail to save the knees.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Great training hike. Should only take a fit hiker 2 hours up with a 40lb pack. This year it is snow free...

almost 3 years ago
almost 3 years ago

This hike was pretty difficult. Kicked my butt! the view was totally worth it though!

almost 3 years ago
almost 3 years ago

Most avid hikers in the Seattle area have done this hike. Whether you do the old trail or new, it's not for those who rarely get out, unless you'll expect a bit of a spanking. Beautiful views of the Snoqualmie Valley if the day is clear.

over 3 years ago
over 3 years ago

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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