Alderwood Manor, WA
Trailblazer | 531 pts
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.