July 16, 2013
The Alpine Lakes Wilderness area covers 390,000 acres of pine-shrouded mountains dotted with lakes tucked away in bowl-shaped valleys in the North Cascades. While much of the area is difficult to access, Mason Lake is in King County, and reachable in a somewhat challenging day hike along the Ira Spring Trail.
The hike is about 3 miles each way, with an elevation gain of about 2,500 feet. It starts easily enough — a wide trail shaded by leafy trees and a fairly gradual incline.
After the first half-mile or so, a small waterfall uphill creates a stream (which makes its way to the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River) that cuts across the trail.