Take exit 45 off I-90. Then head up Forest Service Road 9030 until you come to the 9030/9031 junction. Switch onto 9031 where the sign for Ira Springs Trail points. The parking lot is a good size, but this is a very popular trail since there are so many places to go, so be sure to get there early or you might have a long hike to get to the trailhead.
There is an enclosed pit toilet at the trailhead, and a trash can.
Parking within a quarter mile of the trailhead requires a Northwest Forest Pass.
Before heading up the trail, also get a free, self-issued Alpine Lakes Wilderness permit at the trailhead. Though it's technically required, some people don't do this, but probably should as these are used to determine which trails get maintenance.
This hike starts at the Ira Springs Trailhead and follows the Ira Spring (Mason Lake) Trail #1038
. The trail crosses over a few streams, both of which have beautiful waterfalls flowing right on the side of the trail. You'll start to get glimpses of Mt. Rainier after crossing the streams, but once you get above the treeline, the views are spectacular!
About 3 miles in, you come to a fork in the trail that is very well marked. Follow the Bandera Mountain Trail
to the right to head up Bandera Mountain. The grade increases steeply here, and the trail starts to get pretty rough since you have to climb through a boulder field where disappears a few times. The trail is safe and, as long as you're being careful, it shouldn't be a problem, just keep your head up so that you see where the path exits the boulders. At the top here is Little Bandera, which has the best views. Many people turn around here, as the remainder is more of a scramble than a hike.
Continuing past this point, the trail follows the ridge, but disappears almost entirely. Drop down in to the saddle between the peaks, picking your way over the boulders, then up the forested peak on the other side, about 100' higher than Little Bandera.