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.
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.
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. ★ ★ ★ ★
The hike is a bit of a climb, but you're rewarded with views from the hut at the top. ★ ★ ★ ★
We did this trail as a sunset hike, shooting photos and video at the summit. Amazing.