Park Butte Trail

Mount Baker National Recreation Area, Washington

Elevation Gain2,550ft
Trailhead Elevation3,355ft
Elevation Min/Max3355/5462ft
Elevation Start/End3355/3355ft

Park Butte Trail

Park Butte Trail is a hiking and horse trail in Whatcom County, Washington. It is within Mount Baker National Recreation Area. It is 3.7 miles long and begins at 3,355 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 7.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,550 feet. Near the trailhead there are restrooms. Along the trail there are woods. The trail ends near the Park Butte Lookout observation tower and Park Butte (elevation 5,384 feet). This trail connects with the following: Railroad Grade, Scott Paul Trail and Bell Pass Trail.

Park Butte Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"This beautiful parklike setting on the south flank of Mount Baker has a lot to explore. Wildflowers spill into creeks along the trail. An ancient dome of ice grinds into the andesitic rock of Mount Baker to the north of the lookout.

Hanging glaciers cap the lustrous yellow of the Twin Sisters. Sit among wildflowers and tarns, climb to the summit of Park Butte, or ramble the Railroad Grade Moraine to the snout of Easton Glacier. If you tire of the crowds, take the long way home on the Scott Paul Trail."

"One of the most spectacular settings in the entire North Cascades, Park Butte provides unsurpassed views of the snowy volcano Baker as well as inviting and outstanding high country that begs to be explored. The historical fire lookout, one of the few remaining in these parts, teeters on the edge of a craggy knoll offering Imax-like showings of Washington’s third-highest summit.

Come here in summer and play in fields of snow. Come in autumn and roam through fields scorched in crimson. But try to come on a weekday, for the crowds are legion at Park Butte, one of the top hiking destinations in the Northwest."

"Hike to a historic ?re lookout teetering on the edge of a craggy knoll for an Imax-like showing of Washington’s third-highest summit. Aside from unsurpassed views of snow-shrouded
Mount Baker, marvel at the outstanding surrounding high country dotted with tarns and begging to be explored.

Come in summer and play in ?elds of snow. Come in autumn and roam through crimson ?elds. But try to come during the week, for crowds are legion at Park Butte, located in the 8000-acre Mount Baker National Recreation Area (NRA)."

"Built in 1933 and used for fire surveillance until the early 1960s, the Park Butte Lookout is not only maintained and open to the public but also available for camping on a first-come, first-served basis.

With the icy south flank of Mount Baker just 2 air miles away to the north and the rust-colored Twin Sisters Range just 4 miles to the west, this truly is a room with a view, as well as just a neat hiking destination. (Interestingly, in the mid-1970s when there was fear of a Mount Baker eruption, the lookout became an observatory for volcano monitors.)"

Park Butte Trail Reviews

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It was a crystal clear day. Saw a couple marmots on the high meadow. The first mile or so is fairly level, with a few interesting rockfields from spring runoff that have to be crossed. Then the climb begins in earnest for the next mile or so in a typical NW deep forest environment, with a few peekaboo views of the cascades to the southeast. Levels out on a high meadow for a half mile plus, then climbs again to the lookout. Breathtaking views all the way once you get to the first meadow. Will return soon to do the railroad grade.
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What a stunning hike. I could hardly make myself descend back to the car. Huckleberries everywhere, outrageous views of Cascade mountaintops, the Nooksack Valley and all the way to Boundary Bay. No wonder this trail is so very popular. Go midweek if you possibly can, but just go early if you have to go on a weekend.
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A fairly strenuous trail so it's a good thing you can't see Park Butte from the trailhead or you would be discouraged at the get go. You start climbing as soon as you leave the parking lot and you won't stop approaching the heavens until you arrive at the fire lookout on top. It's an easy climb as you pass through Schreiber Meadows. On this trip it was 85* and the black flies were relentless. They became less obnoxious as we gained altitude but we talked about returning in the fall when we can hike without insectual assult. Views of Mt. Baker and hundreds of surrounding peaks are spectacular. The Railroad Grade Trail is clearly visible from higer elevations on this trail. Some parts of the trail are very, very steep with lose rock. Patience will be rewarded. A note of warning: we started the trail at 7:15 AM and came to a river crossing at 1.5 miles. We were able to hop across rocks as we ascended. Coming back at 4:30 PM was another story. The river had risen dramatically and we had to scramble to find a crossing. If you have dogs/kids, think twice about safety if you're going up early in the day. Again, ours was a hot day which I am sure impacted the glacier-fed river. Trail guides here do not allow time for gazing at fields of wildflowers, exploring tarns, or experiencing an almost spiritual experience on top. Trust me - allow ten hours for this incredible experience.
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Park Butte Trail #603 - The trail bridge over Rocky Creek was destroyed. Additionally, Rocky Creek moved about 100 yards to the west. A new bridge will be needed to cross this creek.

Park Butte Trail Photos

Trail Information

Mount Baker National Recreation Area
Nearby City
Mount Baker National Recreation Area
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Skill Level
Additional Use
Mount Baker Ranger District; (360) 856-5700;
Local Contacts
USGS Baker Pass; Green Trails no. 54, Hamilton
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Nov 2018