Start on an abandoned road grade, crossing Mason Creek at milepost 0.6 and continuing east for another mile before leaving the road grade to switchback up through open south-facing slopes to the junction with Bandera Mountain Trail.
At the junction take a right for a steep scramble up Bandera Mountain or continue 0.2 miles left to the ridgeline, which marks the boundary of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Continue 0.4 miles, losing 300 feet in elevation, to the Mason Lake outlet at milepost 3.4 and follow the west shoreline before gradually climbing to the junction with Mount Defiance Trail #1009 at milepost 4. From the junction, head west to Mount Defiance and Thompson Lake or east to Rainbow and Island Lakes.
Enjoy fantastic wildflowers displays late spring through summer. On a clear day find several vantage points with views of Mt. Rainier. Bandera Mountain summit is at 5,240 feet elevation.