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Strenuous trail to a high ridge and historic lookout tower.


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Map Key

10.1

Miles

16.2

KM

Out and Back

5,990' 1,826 m

High

897' 273 m

Low

5,120' 1,561 m

Up

5,120' 1,560 m

Down

19%

Avg Grade (11°)

47%

Max Grade (25°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Fall Colors · Historical Significance · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

CLOSED: Trail closed until further notice due to wildfire damage.

Overview

One of the more strenuous trails in North Cascades National Park, this one rewards with huge views and a leg-busting workout.

Need to Know

This trail closed in 2023 due to wildfire. Check the national park's current conditions page for the latest updates. Leashed dogs are allowed on the first 3 miles of this trail, but then it crosses into the national park boundary where dogs are not allowed.

Description

Start at the trailhead located in Diablo, a few hundred feet from Gorge Lake Campground. Cross a bridge after a quarter-mile hike. The creek might be the last reliable source of water in late summer or when it's been dry for an extended period. You might want to fill up because the trail gains elevation fast and steadily.

The ascent is long and grueling. The dusty trail switchbacks through a forest of conifers that progressively thins, leading to more colorful wildflowers. At a little over 4 miles, Sourdough Camp is reached, which is the spot for those making this outing into a backpacking trip. Sourdough Creek is a few hundred feet farther, but the water is scarce in late summer. Carrying a straw and filter is a wise move.

From there, a mere mile separates hikers from the Sourdough Lookout Tower, most of which is on the rather flat, rocky summit. The lookout tower, which used to be a fire tower, is not located on the true summit, which lies about 1 mile northwest. No maintained trail goes to the true summit, but it's an easy scramble for motivated hikers. There are views all around, most notably of the Picket Range, Davis Peak, Diablo Lake, Jack Mountain and Ruby Mountain.

The return trip is via the same trails used for the ascent. Make sure to adjust the trekking poles for the descent to give your knees a break.

- Description by Louis O, Outdoor Project contributor

Contacts

Shared By:

Hiking Project Staff with improvements by Jesse Weber

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#2240

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#2,240

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Photos

On the way back down mountain after summiting.
Jun 27, 2024 near Diablo, WA
It was a tough climb but totally worth it for the 360 degree views.
Jun 28, 2018 near Diablo, WA
The view from the top of Sourdough Mountain.
May 2, 2017 near Diablo, WA
Hiking with friends - the more the merrier!
Jun 27, 2024 near Diablo, WA
Panorama from the lookout. Does not do justice to the absolute beauty of this veiw..
Jun 13, 2016 near Stehekin, WA
The lookout is no longer open to the public for safety reasons...
Jun 13, 2016 near Diablo, WA

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