Day Hiking: North Cascades
by Craig Romano (The Mountaineers Books)
© Craig Romano/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
Lookout now closed and no longer staffed, beginning with 2014 fire season. Write your congressional representatives to better fund the Forest Service!
A cornice still lingered at the topo north side rige but should melt free by the Fourth of July. Great hike, great views.
The directions were good, the dirt road up was in surprisingly good shape. The drive up took about 20 minutes. The trail was steep but doable with views all along the route. It took about an hour to hike up. Once you got about 80% of the way up it leveled out and went along a ridge that you could see the tower from. Once you got there the panoramic view was incredible!! Lightning Bill was a very nice man who answered all our questions and took our picture for his album. This is a must to hike if you are in the area!
A great hike with a superb view in every direction! It was also quite nice to meet Lightning Bill Austin, the ranger manning the lookout station, and Shiloh the Thunderdog. Bill was very hospitable, took my picture for his album, and had a lot of stories to tell about life on top of the world.
The trail directions led me accurately to the trailhead, although some of the mileages on the legs seemed a tiny bit inflated. The time and distance estimates for the length of the hike was also inflated -- I came prepared with enough water and time for a 6 hour / 5 miles round trip through a sun-exposed face. I was pleasantly surprised to reach the top in under an hour, after a very shady 1.8 mile (by my GPS) walk through lovely forest and meadowland. With *lots* of dawdling for view-watching and picture-taking, my round trip was more like 3 hours. The 6 hour figure possibly reflects time to negotiate the old trail on the southern face of Goat Peak.
The trail is in great shape. It is a bit steep in spots, but with appropriate switchbacks. In between the steep spots are several fairly level meadows with fine views to break up the climb. Wildflowers were out in abundance, and the views all along the way were incredible.
I stopped to log the geocache placed in honor of Bill, and also to place a new terracache near the top.
This was a very fine hike, and one that I will definitely do again on my next trip to the Methow Valley.
Very popular local hike just west of Winthrop and outside of Mazama. A few MTBers dare to this steep climb, but its mostly day hikers seeking excellent views of the North Cascades and Rt. 20 below. Pretty steep in some sections even for hikers, but pace yourself and its no problem. The Ranger (Lightning Bill) is a legend. He''ll take your photo (album at ranger cabin holds all visitor for past 7 years!), feed your dogs treats and tell some great stories. This dude is famous! But the history of this fire look out is excellent. Rumors have it replaced by new one in couple years. Savor the views and history now then!
This a short day hike with great views. The sign at the trail head shows that it is also open to mountain bikes, so two of us road up and down. In fact, we were the first mountain bikers to do so this year. It's a fairly steep climb, so we had to through the bikes on our back for some section. But the downhill is 100% rideable, if you are an experienced mountain biker. Either way, it's a great trail that takes you to one of two active lookout towers in Washington State. If you are lucky, you'll get to meet Lightning Bill Austin, who mans the tower during the summer months. If you are looking for a shorter hike, with incredible views, this is the one to do. Be prepared for a 10 mile drive up into the mountains on gravel road before you reach the trailhead.
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