4 Must-See Mountaintop Lookouts in the Central Cascades
Author: Richard Porter | Illustration: Sierra Rozario
Our region offers easily-scalable peaks with amazing views. With every variation of elevation from hillocks to full-on mountains, amateur and expert climbers will be able to find an appropriate ascent waiting for them in the Cascades.
The view from a mountaintop is worth the climb. Here are your best bets for lookout hikes in Seattle NorthCountry.
Mount Pilchuck Lookout
Elevation: 5,000 feet, gain of 3,000 feet during hike
It’s about a two-hour climb up this 5,000-foot peak. The top is not always easily accessible, due to varying amounts of snow. And when it snows the outlook cabin at the top is winterized. But you can still stand on the deck of the lookout and see panoramic views of the Salish Sea, the Snohomish River Delta, and the Central and North Cascades. A summer hike? Even better.
North Mountain Lookout
Elevation: 560 feet
For climbers who are less gruff than hardcore mountaineers, there’s the Northwest Wilderness Lookout, which, unsurprisingly, offers a grandiose and sweeping view of the Northwest Wilderness. It’s a short hike to the top and offers views of Glacier Peak and Mount Baker.
Green Mountain Lookout
Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Elevation: 6,500 feet
For intrepid climbers who can navigate, Green Mountain is one of the best-kept secrets; accessible only by the remote Mountain Loop Highway. This backcountry route takes you to an old lookout with views of Whitechuck, and hulking Glacier Peak. This hike has a lot of mostly exposed slopes. Novices: don’t attempt this one.
Elevation: 1,700 feet, gain of 900 feet during hike
900 feet of rocky ledge towers at the edge of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. At the top is a fire lookout with a luxurious cabin on top. Even if you’re not renting the cabin (which you can do, by the way) you can still stand high in the forest and see the surrounding peaks of Mt. Persis, Mount Index and the Skykomish River far below.