Hidden Lake Lookout has everything you're looking for in a backcountry skiing adventure: great skiing, amazing views, and a warm and dry place to end the day. The lookout gets no more than a few dozen visitors during the winter, so you're likely to have the place to yourself mid-week and you might end up sharing the lookout with another group or two during the weekends.
The lookout is first-come, first-served and free. Be ready to put in a full day climbing and route finding to get there, however; the winter route can be tough to follow and the flagging can be sparse. The winter route climbs more than 5,000 feet and navigates through dangerous avalanche terrain. Be wary of taking the summer route as this goes up a steep draw that leaves you exposed to avalanches.
There is skiing in every direction from the lookout. The southwest side offers some mellow runs, while the northeast side of the lookout holds some steep lines that feed into Hidden Lake.
During an average snow year you'll find yourself parking down at Sibley Creek Road and hiking up NF-1540. NF-1540 isn't plowed and can be dangerous to drive with snow/ice on the road. After hiking up NF-1540 for approximately 3.5 miles look for flagging on the uphill (right) side of the road. The winter route follows a steep ridge for 2 miles before reaching the tree line. From here, you'll see the southernmost Hidden Lake Peak, while the lookout will be hard to see from this distance. Work your way southeast to gain the saddle just north of Hidden Lake Peak. From here, traverse at the base of the steep slope until you hit the ridge on the south side of Hidden Lake. Gain the ridge and follow it up west to Hidden Lake Lookout.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.