Mount Pilchuck

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

North Cascades, Washington

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Mount Pilchuck


  • Mount Pilchuck Trail.- Mount Pilchuck
  • A recently cleared section of Mount Pilchuck Trail.- Mount Pilchuck
  • Climbing steadily among rocks and roots. - Mount Pilchuck
  • Three Fingers Mountain (6,870') to the north.- Mount Pilchuck
  • Red heather (Phyllodoce empetriformis).- Mount Pilchuck
  • Red heather (Phyllodoce empetriformis ) on a foggy July morning.- Mount Pilchuck
  • Pika (Ochotona) can be seen and heard among the rocks.- Mount Pilchuck
  • Talus fields in October.- Mount Pilchuck
  • Fall colors along Mount Pilchuck Trail.- Mount Pilchuck
  • Historic fire lookout at the summit of Mount Pilchuck (5,324').- Mount Pilchuck
  • View from the lookout on a cloudy day.- Mount Pilchuck
  • Historic fire lookout at the summit of Mount Pilchuck (5,324').- Mount Pilchuck
  • Mountains become islands in a sea of clouds.- Mount Pilchuck
Overview + Weather
360-degree North Cascade views. Historic fire lookout.
Very popular trail.
North Cascades, WA
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,200.00 ft (670.56 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
5.20 mi (8.37 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
3,100.00 ft (944.88 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


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.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(4 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(35 within a 30 mile radius)

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