Hiking Project Logo

Mount Pilchuck Trail

Difficult
 4.7 (37) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A very popular hike to the lookout tower perched on Mount Pilchuck.


Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add to Favorites · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

5.4

Miles

8.6

KM

Out and Back

5,273' 1,607 m

High

3,188' 972 m

Low

2,087' 636 m

Up

2,086' 636 m

Down

15%

Avg Grade (8°)

47%

Max Grade (25°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views

A Recreation Pass is required at the trailhead.

Overview

A steady workout that's worth every step when you get to bask in the views from the summit. This is an immensely popular hike, so you'll have plenty of company as you contend with the abundant roots, steps, rocks, and boulder fields along the way. You can even spend the night in the lookout if there's room.

Need to Know

  • The trail can be quite popular so an earlier start is recommended. There is a pit-toilet at the trailhead but no source of water.
  • This trail is best enjoyed in summer/fall. Snow can linger near the summit through July.

Description

From the parking area, the trail starts as a broad gravel path through old-growth trees. The smooth-going is interrupted by a stream flowing over the trail. If your rock-hopping skills are good and the water level is cooperative, you should be able to keep your feet dry.

Soon the trail narrows and roots begin to enter the tread, giving hikers a taste of the uneven terrain that the day has in store. Ahead, the trail becomes so strewn with rocks that it feels more like a stream bed through the lush forest. Fortunately, occasional stairs do make the going easier.

The forest begins to pull back at the first of several boulder fields. Some of these fields are more difficult to cross than others, and briefly losing track of the actual trail is common. As the trail continues, it heads north around the ridge line to an area with more exposure and striking views. Ahead, a trail cribbing has been laid through a perpetually damp area. The trail shortly begins to switchback toward the ridge above. This is one of the first spots where you'll be able to appreciate the towering shale that forms the summit.

Boulder fields, loads of rock, and the occasional scramble are the norm from here to the top including a long, craggy stretch beneath the ridge line that forms the summit. Keep an eye out for a distinct rock fin bordering the trail that signals the "quarter mile to go" mark.

Finally, the lookout comes into view. But reaching the shelter requires a final boulder scramble and short ladder climb. Once you've reached the inviting platform, enjoy! The hard workout you've just completed will fade away under the onslaught of such expansive views. And once you're done looking outside, take a moment to look inside the lookout for some informative signs on the area and the building's history.

When it's time to head back, simply retrace your steps back to the parking area. Or, if there's room, and you've brought the necessary gear, prepare to enjoy an overnight stay in one of Washington's most popular lookouts.

History & Background

The lookout was constructed in 1918 and operated through 1960. In 1990, it was rebuilt by the Everett Mountaineers who continue to maintain it.

Contacts

Shared By:

Eric Ashley

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 37 votes

#196

Overall
  4.7 from 37 votes
5 Star
70%
4 Star
27%
3 Star
3%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#16

in Washington

#196

Overall
167 Views Last Month
4,833 Since Sep 30, 2016
Difficult

0%
0%
18%
0%
79%
3%

Photos

This much snow on 7/3/2020
Jul 3, 2020 near Granite…, WA
A layer of fog shrouding the views below Mount Pilchuck.
Sep 30, 2016 near Granite…, WA
Perfect lunch spot atop Mount Pilchuck.
Sep 30, 2016 near Granite…, WA
From the fire lookout on Mount Pilchuck.
Sep 30, 2016 near Granite…, WA

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 10 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Jul 4, 2020
Kimia Salmani
Jul 4, 2020
Sarah Park
3 parts: 1. Small rocks, water, mud 2. Boulders 3. Snow
Oct 10, 2019
Shawn Dier
Loads of snow and ice made for slow going. Crystal clear day though. — 3h 35m
Aug 6, 2019
Wei Wei
4h 15m
Aug 4, 2019
Vladimir Duk
5.5mi — 4h 00m
Jun 29, 2019
Kimia Salmani
Jun 22, 2019
Chelsea Hillis
5.6mi — 4h 00m
Jun 9, 2019
Lal W.
The BEST hiking trail ever! It was like hiking in 4 seasons. Spikes recommended especially if there's still snow. Views were phenomenally beautiful!!! 5.4mi — 5h 10m