Mailbox Peak is somewhat of a right of passage for PNW hiking. It's a popular hike in the North Bend area that is the source of bragging rights for thousands of Washingtonians. The Old Trail to the top was an intensely steep hike that challenged the most conditioned of thighs. There is now 2 trails leading to the top as they've recently added a tad bit easier way to the top but don't let that over-encourage you, neither path to the top can be called "easy". Depending which trail you take you're looking at a 6 - 9.5 mile round trip hike with about 4000 feet in elevation gain. Whether you want to eat that 4000 feet of elevation in 2.5 or 4.5 miles is up to you. The trailheads share the same parking lots which are usually full on most weekends. The trail can be done year round but please be aware of current avalanche conditions in the winter before you decide to hike.
Once at the top you realize that this summit is located on the edge of a ridge line and offers up some impressive summit views that you don't find on every peak in the area. With Mt Rainier right in your face and mountains all around the view is obviously spectacular, and the distance and elevation gains make you earn it, but that's not what makes this peak unique. It's the mailbox!
Yup, there's an actual mailbox on the summit. Why? A little bit of humor I'm sure, but the tradition stems back to the 1950's. The truth is you may find all sorts of interesting things on this peak. In the mailbox you'll often find a little reward for all the effort to get up there. Hikers are known to find anything from letters, personal stories, practical jokes, simple food offerings, or even an adult beverage or two. These items act as both a gift to the hiker that follows and sometimes even evidence of a more macho kind of hiker that roam the our hills. If you get lucky you may find anything from full size ladders, to fire hydrants, or even 45lbs plate weights!!! There's a fire-fighter training center in the area so the trail gets used a fair bit for training purposes.
Wether you are in it for the quad pumping challenge, the memorable views, or a little surprise at the top Mailbox Peak is a trail all serious hikers of the PNW need to tackle at least once.