Mt Pilchuck offers a handful of fun features in a moderate, interesting dayhike. This trail is easily accessible from Seattle and for a few extra minutes on the road, you can get a break from the well-worn I-90 trails and views of Mt Baker. Snow lingers here, so early hikers may hit prohibitive snowpack unless they have the right gear. (This often includes crampons and ice axe.)

Mt Pilchuck

Begin at the trailhead and be sure to read the WARNING sign twice. With its proximity to the Seattle Metro area, this trails sees a fair amount of novice hikers and receives its fair share of Search and Rescue calls. Don’t be one of those. Selecing the right season and gear makes all the difference. Begin on an old service road that used to bring skiiers to what used to be Mt Pilchuck Ski Area. After you pass off  the road, you’ll enter Mt Pilchuck State Park and begin through the hemlock and fir forest. Traverse a creek, then begin across a boulder-strewn scree field from avalanches of years past.  Hikers who keep an eye out as they begin up the slope can find remnants of the chairlift poles. Another interesting feature in this area is the many examples of avalanche impacts on the boulders. Watch for radial patterns on the large rocks, where other rocks have hit and shattered them.

Mt Pilchuck

From this point the hiking and views both level-up.  Peek through the trees at views of Mt Baker and work the thighs a bit. Before this becomes too much of a burden, the peak comes into view and offers a 100 yard easy scramble to the fire lookout at the top. The prominence here is apparent as the view opens up in all directions. Rest, take in the views and perhaps park on a rock for lunch. On a clear day panoramic views reach from Bellingham to Seattle and Puget Sound on the west, and abound across the North Cascades all the way down to Rainier in the southeast.

Directions: Take I-5 to exit 194 – US Hwy 2 toward Granite Falls. A few quick (and confusing) turns through Lake Stevens area: Exit left on to WA 204, then left onto WA 9 North, then right onto WA 92 East. Follow signs and continue on the Mountain Loop Highway. One mile past the Verlot Ranger Station, cross a bridge and turn right onto Forest Road 42.  Drive 7 miles to the end of the road. Parking lot and privy at the trailhead.

Season: Fall
Length: 3 miles each way
Difficulty: Moderate
Variety: Out and Back
Elevation Gain: 2224 ft
Highest Point: 5340
Maps: USGS Verlot Quad,  Green Trails #109 – Granite Falls
Open to: Hikers, dogs
Passes and permits required: NW Forest Pass

Mt Pilchuck

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