Mount Pilchuck

22 reviews #11 hike out of 988 in
5.2 mi
Distance
2 hrs 14 min
Time
terrain
2,110 ft
Elev Gain

Overview

Located on Washington's Mountain Loop Highway in the North Cascades, Mount Pilchuck is sought by day hikers and overnight backpackers looking to camp in the historic fire lookout at the top. Mount Pilchuck's high trailhead (3,000 feet above sea level) gives hikers the chance to gain over 2,000 feet elevation in 2.6 miles. From the top, hikers are rewarded with 360-degree views of surrounding volcanoes and mountain ranges.

The hike shouldn't be taken lightly as the elevation gain is roughly 1,000 feet per mile.

This is a moderate trail to Mount Pilchuck in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

This trail goes by Mount Pilchuck Lookout.

Getting Started

Mount Pilchuck is one of the most popular trails in the area, so the parking lot fills up fast.

Start hiking from the parking lot and locate the trail near the toilets. Steer right at the first fork and cross a stream. Enter Mount Pilchuck State Park near a quarter of a mile. At 1 mile, the trail crosses through a boulder field. Follow the trail to the left with an orange marker indicating the right way. Reaching a clearing and the trail opening up, the fire lookout should be within sight if the weather cooperates.

Respect the lookout and do not enter or pry open if the door is locked. The rocks surrounding the outlook provide many areas to rest after the quick but challenging hike. If the door is unlocked you may go in and you can stay the night on a first come, first serve basis.

A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead. Buy an annual pass or pay at the trailhead.



    Rate this Hike

    user_profile
    1 year, 1 month ago
    The Good: The view from the top is incredible! If you pick a good, clear day you will be rewarded with views of Seattle to Anacortes and the Olympics to the West and Mt Baker and the rest of the Cascades to the East. This is a short hike without a ton of gain, so I would rate it more in the moderate category. The Bad: The road is terrible getting up there. There are huge potholes that are unavoidable for several miles. This is a very popular hike, so expect traffic and lots of it. I left the parking lot on Tuesday morning at 7:30 am and was to the top by 9 am. I had the whole lookout to myself for almost an hour before the next group showed up. I was back down to the parking lot just after 11.
    ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    1 year, 11 months ago
    We did the hike yesterday, a cool and rainy day that eliminated the great views I remembered from my last hike here 3 years ago. What has changed is the road up and the trail condition. The road is simply the worst I have been on in years and maybe ever. I was in a CR-V and still bottomed out twice. Whatever agency is responsible for this road should be ashamed that it has let it deteriorate to the point that you have a 4 mile section with thousands of pot holes that are so prevalent that there is no way around and you have to go through them and hope not to pick a pot hole that makes you bottom out. Even the 1.5 mile paved portion which follows the horrendous gravel section has a large section About midway up which has completely deteriorated. The actual trail has always been rough, but many of the sections with steps and weed control mats have more black mat exposed than is not covered. This is a great hike, particularly on a clear day. It is just a shame that the agencies responsible for maintaining the road and trails have allowed them to get in such terrible shape. I am not expecting paved forest service roads, but a road that you can travel at 10-15 mph is not an unreasonable expectation.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile stars
    2 years ago
    Like others, I'd give it 4 stars to compensate the amazing views but account for the crowds . This one is filled with unprepared hikers, families, and pets. The last scramble is not good for dogs-- be a responsible pet owner! Road is rough but I've seen Priuses and mini coops get up there. Just be slow and pull over for trucks who want to pass you.
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    2 years ago
    Nice short hike that nets you outsized 360 view for the level of effort required. One star ⭐️ deducted because it is a ZOO when weather is nice. And what’s up with so many people bringing their dogs for this hike? There was a pair of young women with an obviously overheated husky, trying to force the poor dog to scramble the last rocky part under the lookout. How on earth they were going to make that dog to go up the metal ladder to lookout is beyond me. Best to avoid sunny weekends. Road to the TH is riddled with many deep potholes so high clearance vehicle is recommended.
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile stars
    2 years, 8 months ago
    This is a moderate hike up to the Mt Pilchuck lookout. In the summer you can drive all the way to the TH but in spring you'll need to hike/ski from the gate which adds many miles. If the lookout is unlocked, you may stay there overnight. In late spring it is best to carry an ice axe and know how to use it as the trail is under snow and there are some steep places.
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    3 years ago
    The hike is a bit of a climb, but you're rewarded with views from the hut at the top.
    ★ ★ ★ ★

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    3 weeks, 1 day ago
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Public Tracks

user_profile
Michael Barlow 3 years, 10 months ago
Track (9/3/17, 4:59:34PM)
We did this trail as a sunset hike, shooting photos and video at the summit. Amazing.
user_profile
jessie.hey 2 years, 9 months ago
Mount Pilchuck 10/18/18, 10:36:26AM)
Slow - v slow 2 or 3 people - 1 altitude plus 2? slow uphill
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Tomek 2 years, 5 months ago
My Pilchuck (1/29/19, 8:57:06AM)
Kazik, Zdzisiek i Tomek
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