A new peak for Blue to bag. We made an attempt for Bandera Mt in the middle of winter a few years ago but only made it to Little Bandera. I did not see any safe way over to Bandera. See the Little Bandera 2013-02-17 post.
This time it was sunny and hot. We turned off at the trail sign for Bandera and headed straight up the hill. This trail is steep and a bit of a scramble to get over the rocks. Once on the ridge it is not too bad. Finding the trail from Little Bandera to Bandera proved to be a challenge. You head across the rocks and then work your way down between a couple of big boulders. I had to help Blue and Sly down and then up on the return. A good trail until the boulder fields just before Bandera. This section of the trail had the best huckleberries I've had this year.
Going down steep trails that required scrambling to go up is not my ideal trail experience. I knew a trail existed that followed the ridge all the way from the Ira Spring Overlook but I must have missed the intersection when we were going up. So, on the way down when the trail took a turn away from the ridge I just kept to the top of the ridge and pushed through the tree branches. Fortunately it didn't take too long before I spotted the trail. This is a very nice shaded trail with soft tread. On the next trip to Bandera, we will go up this trail.
We continued on to Mason Lake for doggy drinks and then headed down the old trail.
Google Maps link
Heading up the Mason Lake trail, the turn off for Bandera Mt is just around the corner.
Almost up to Little Bandera. Putrid Pete's Peak and Mt Defiance in the background.
The top of Little Bandera.
The trail continues to the left of Blue then...
across these rocks and down a rock "chute" to the trail on the south side of the ridge.
The final ascent is across boulders with a couple of little patches of actual trail through the trees. A few cairns along the way.
The very top of Bandera Mt. Just a pile of big rocks.
Little Bandera to the right of Blue.
Looking down on Island Lake with Pratt Mt in the foreground.
The unofficial ridge trail to Bandera Mt starts at the Ira Spring Overlook before the trail starts the descent to Mason Lake.