#17 Lookout Mountain Central North Cascades
First Visit: Sep 2, 2017
Lookout Type: 15’x15′ R-6 flat roof cab
Site Established: 1928
Current Structure Built: 1967
Lat/Long: 48.55223°N / 121.32944°W
Distance: 9.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,500′
Summit Elevation: 5,719′
What makes it special…
Mesmerizing views of the Picket Range and North Cascades! And a high chance of solitude.
Lookout Mountain’s first lookout was a 2-story cathedral style cupola built in 1928. The current structure replaced it in 1967 and was one of the last to be built. It is available first come first serve for overnight stays and currently maintained by volunteers.
Drive Highway 20 east to Marblemount and turn onto the Cascade River Road. Drive 7 miles to the Lookout Mountain trailhead, well marked on the right side of the main road. The trail begins across the street.
The trail to Lookout Mountain is no slouch, gaining 4,500′ in just over 4.5 miles. If you’re a forest person you’ll love the approach. There are no views on this trail to keep you motivated, only a long, steady climb through beautiful old forest. Just shy of 3 miles you’ll reach a trail junction that leads to Monogram Lake, a bit over a mile away and a worthy destination if you’re feeling ambitious!
The trail to the summit continues upward before traversing a rocky meadow. When I visited in September 2017, the trail was very overgrown and littered with rocks, so take care with your footing and expect a bit of bushwhacking. You’ll finally get your first glimpse of the lookout but don’t get too excited, you still have another half mile to go and it’s not direct! The trail traverses below the lookout and around a steep drop off, disappearing into forest, leaving you wonder if the lookout is there.
Keep pushing on and shortly you’ll pop out on the summit! The lookout is perched 30′ off the ground, so be prepared to climb the stairs to the top but it’s every bit worth it! Views extend over to Monogram Lake, Mount Baker, Shuksan, Eldorado, Boston Basin, and spectacularly showcase the Pickets to the north.
A sign recommends no more than two people stand on each side of the catwalk at a time. If you stay or visit, leave the lookout cleaner than you found it. The lookout stewards will be most grateful!