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Park Butte

Mount Baker Wilderness

Mount Baker Area, Washington

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Park Butte

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  • Bridge over Sulphur Creek.- Park Butte
  • Mushrooms in September.- Park Butte
  • Schreibers Meadow in the fall.- Park Butte
  • First impression of Mount Baker (10,781').- Park Butte
  • Backpackers walk through a rocky creekbed. - Park Butte
  • Seasonal bridge at Rocky Creek.- Park Butte
  • Young growth near Rocky Creek.- Park Butte
  • Railroad Grade Trail to Easton Glacier.- Park Butte
  • Mount Baker (10,781') from Upper Morovitz Meadow.- Park Butte
  • Crossing snowfields in Upper Morovitz Meadow.- Park Butte
  • Campsite at Cathedral Camp.- Park Butte
  • Taking a break to admire Mount Baker (10,781') and the Black Buttes.- Park Butte
  • Spring snowmelt on Park Butte.- Park Butte
  • Pocket Lake.- Park Butte
  • Park Butte Lookout.- Park Butte
  • Nooksack Valley from Park Butte.- Park Butte
  • Park Butte Lookout and Mount Baker (10,781') in the fall.- Park Butte
  • Bring your own sheets!- Park Butte
  • Twin Sisters Range (South Twin: 7,000') above the Nooksack Valley.- Park Butte
  • Looking south toward Glacier Peak (10,541').- Park Butte
  • Late afternoon descent in September.- Park Butte
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Fire lookout views. Wildflowers. Rushing water.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Mount Baker Area, WA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,100.00 ft (640.08 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
7.90 mi (12.71 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
3,300.00 ft (1,005.84 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Park Butte is consistently ranked as one of the best day hikes in the North Cascades. This well-maintained trail meanders through wildflower fields, crosses raging streams, passes tarns and a pretty lake, and finally climbs to a historic 1930s fire lookout with 360-degree views of the Mount Baker Wilderness. You'll also find trailhead and backcountry campsites, and you'll have the option of sleeping in the lookout on a first-come, first-served basis. Summer weekends can become crowded, but even then you can usually find solitude along Park Butte Trail.

Begin along a dirt path that leaves from behind the restrooms and continues past the picnic tables before crossing over Sulphur Creek into Schreibers Meadow. Lined with heather in the summer and mushrooms and mountain berry bushes in the fall, the trail becomes a boardwalk before returning to dirt. This first mile is easy, and it passes in and out of the forest, offering occasional glimpses of Mount Baker to the north. Cross a seasonal bridge over glacial Rocky Creek, then climb up a series of switchbacks.

After 2.4 miles you will reach a junction with Railroad Grade Trail. This mile-long path leads to Mount Baker's Easton Glacier, a popular climbing route. Continue along the Park Butte Trail to the large, open Upper Morovitz Meadow. Streams trickle throughout, and snowfields often linger during summer. Trekking poles are a good idea.

Backpackers should check out Cathedral Camp, an established backcountry camping area just off of the main trail. The final mile from here is the most challenging and rewarding yet. Pass picturesque Pocket Lake, then spot Park Butte Lookout on its high perch and gain it. From the lookout, Mount Baker and the Black Buttes dominate the northern skyline. To the west, peer down on the Nooksack Valley and across to the Twin Sisters Range. Glacier Peak, and sometimes Mount Rainier, can be spotted to the south, while Baker Lake lies to the east. Head inside the lookout for a room with a view.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(27 within a 30 mile radius)

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(48 within a 30 mile radius)

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