Backpack Park Butte

Washington Park Butte Trail

Added by Derek Cook

  • Best views of the Mount Baker's West Slope
  • Park Butte Lookout available for overnight stay
  • Great tarns for camping
  • Amazing view of the Milky Way and stars

Looking for somewhere to backpack or capture the Milky Way on the west slope of the Cascades? Look no further than Park Butte. With some of the best views of Mt. Baker's West Slope, on top of having access to the Park Butte fire lookout, and dozens of tarns near lakes to pitch a tent. This is one of the best locations you can stay overnight - especially if you snag the Lookout for overnight stay. The lookout is available in a first come first serve manner. If you don't get it, no worries, the camping here is amazing none the less. If your're not camping at a tarn near the lookout consider doing the short hike up to it for the sunset, the views are second to none with the light reflecting off the Puget Sound. Lets get started,

From the Park Butte trailhead you'll walk just over 500 feet and come to a junction with the Scott Paul Trail, stay left. About half a mile after this point you'll begin hiking less and less over a trail and more over rocks due to the different routes Rocky Creek has had over time. Once you get past this you'll get to the section of the trail that's mainly switchbacks, the grind of the hike where a good portion of the hikes elevation gain is. While you're hiking the switchbacks you'll come across another junction with the Scott Paul trail, stay left again and use the sign as a half way marker, At this point you'll have hiked 2 miles. After continuing on the trail for an additional half mile you'll get your first good view of Mt. Baker and its meadows. Everything from this point on is a eye opener. You will also come to your last junction, this time with the Railroad Grade trail, stick left again. If you wish to hike this after setting up camp, you wont be disappointed with the close up views of Mt. Baker's glacier you will get.

Continuing on the Park Butte Trail you will soon come up on fields of wildflowers and a large meadow, with your first view of the Park Butte Lookout in the distance. From this point on you'll will see dozens of good places to set up camp. I would recommended finishing off the hike to the lookout to see if its taken, if it is or your interests are not to stay in there at all, there are dozens of good tarns at the lakes beneath the lookout, or the tarn my party stayed at which is a few hundred feet from the lookout right off the trail.

After camp is setup head down to the lakes for a scene that looks like something out of Lord of the Rings, go for a swim and get some photos of a landscape that will make all your friends jaws drop. When dusk hits head back to the lookout for an amazing sunset over the Puget Sound, and for a night full of star gazing. This hike has a lot to offer for only being 7.5 miles round trip. Happy camping!

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Bug spray
  • Head lamp
  • Compass and sky map to locate astronomical objects (This time of the year the most visible part of the milky way rises from the south)
  • Warm clothing
  • Food
  • Water that suites the needs of your party
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn



Easy Parking
Swimming Hole

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How to Get There

about 2 months ago

Amazing Views

I love love loved this hike/overnight trip. It was an easy hike up, although raining and foggy for my first night, the next morning was crystal clear with the world below in the clouds. There are several established campsites around the vicinity. I stayed at Cathedral Camp, and there are 3 established campgrounds along the Railroad Grade trail as well. Forest Roads leading up were the smoothest I have seen in WA so far!

about 2 months ago

Added by Derek Cook

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