The Mount Pilchuck Trail begins along a road once used to access the ski resort. Opened in the 1950s, Mount Pilchuck Ski Area operated for nearly 30 years before shutting down due to unreliable snow levels and land lease issues. Though nothing notable remains of the ski area, history buffs and view-seekers won’t be let down by Pilchuck’s main attraction: a restored fire lookout, originally built in 1918.
To reach the lookout, hikers traverse 2.6 miles through young forest, trickling streams, heather-decorated talus fields, and ever-improving views. Pika often appear among the rocks or sound off shrill cries from their hiding places. The path is busy with other summit-seekers on summer weekends, and for good reason. Standing just 30 miles east of I-5, Mount Pilchuck offers some of the finest and most accessible views around.
Scramble to the lookout tower’s base and up its short, steep ladder to look down on Puget Sound from Pilchuck’s mile-high summit. To the north, Three Fingers Mountain, Mount Baker, and Glacier Peak are visible on a clear day. Big Four Mountain and its Mountain Loop brethren stand to the east, while Mount Rainier looms coolly to the south. After marveling at the spectacular North Cascades, head inside the old fire lookout for a history lesson. Like a tiny mountaintop museum, the lookout is full of historical photographs and information.