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Mount Pilchuck Lookout

Granite Falls, Washington

based on 10 reviews



5.22 miles

Elevation Gain

2113 ft

Route Type



Added by Scott Kranz

Heading out on the trail to Mount Pilchuck Lookout provides amazing views of central Washington and the Puget Sound area. If you hit the trail early enough, you might get the views from the Lookout all to yourself.

Hike the well-maintained Mount Pilchuck Lookout trail through a variety of terrain: old-growth forest and granite boulder fields. At the top, you'll reach a lookout tower perched on Mount Pilchuck. Pilchuck sits on the western edge of the Cascades, which offers up amazing panoramic views once you reach the summit of Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Rainier, the Olympic Peninsula, Puget Sound, the and San Juan Islands.

Pilchuck is is one of the most popular hikes in the area, so if you want it a little more on the empty side, be sure to get an early start on the trail. If you opt to hike in early summer, make sure you bring the proper gear and that you're prepared for some snow on the ground or muddier conditions.


The first mile of trail leads you up switchbacks through a forest and across several streams. In the early summer, make sure to wear waterproof boots and bring an extra pair of socks. These streams can be wet and muddy to cross, so best to stay dry if you can. Once out of the trees, the trail leads you up a rocky granite boulder field. Here, you can see the lookout perched on large granite rocks at the top. Continue you're route by following the trail and cairns, don't try to scramble up your own way. There's nothing like exploring a granite boulder field spotted with green trees and grass!

The trail narrows toward the top and leads you up several more switchbacks. To reach the lookout, scramble across a few boulders and climb up the wooden ladder. If the lookout is unlocked, head in where you'll find a map of all the surrounding peak. The lookout is the perfect place to grab a snack and some water before beginning the descent.


In the winter, this can be a stunning snowshoe or hike with microspikes adventure. This location can get plenty crowded during the summer months, but there are substantially fewer groups in the winter. Be mindful of where the trail goes as you exit the forest - especially if fresh snow or wind drifts have partially covered the way. Many hikers have gotten lost on the trail (in all seasons) so be sure to register in the hikers log at the trailhead and also check in with a trustworthy friend before departing.

Also be sure to check to avalanche forecasts and road closures before heading to the trailhead. You can also check in with the Verlot ranger station (360-691-7791) for a trail and avalanche report. Be sure to bring appropriate safety gear (avalanche beacon, probe shovel) on top of your 10 essentials. 


A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking at the trailhead


Trailhead Coordinates: 48.070141,-121.8191754.

    From Everett:

    • Take Highway 2 towards Lake Stevens
    • Exit left towards Lake Stevens
    • Turn left on WA-9 N. In about 1 mile turn right onto WA-92 towards Granite Falls
    • WA-92 becomes Quarry road, which then becomes the Mountain Loop Highway
    • Remain on the Mountain Loop Highway for 14.8 miles
    • After passing the ranger station, keep an eye out for NF-4020 or "Mount Pilchuck Access Road"
    • Drive 6.3 miles up this gravel road and you will arrive at the trailhead
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    Mount Pilchuck Lookout Reviews

    Beautiful but hard, don’t forget your poles.

    You will need a good mid-sized SUV with at least 8" of clearance to navigate the road filled with major potholes. With the snow in the Spring you may have to park and hike a half-mile or so to the trailhead due to snow on the road. This is not a hike for beginners, especially with snow. Poles or an ice axe are essential if you want to reach the lookout. Always hike with a partner and check the avalanche danger before you go. Have fun!

    Not too hard of a hike and the view is incredible. From mountains to the ocean, you can see it from the fire lookout at the top.

    We did a sunrise hike this morning (Aug. 20) and it was magical. Definitely bundle up for the hike as it was only about 50 degrees when we started up the mountain at 4am. We got to the top around 5:45am, which was just enough time to see the red glow start peaking over the mountains. I wish we had brought a thermos of coffee to share while watching the sunrise but other than that, it was perfect! You might want to bring a dry shirt and sweatshirt to change into at the top to stay warm. It can get windy up at the lookout. You can either watch the sunrise from the lookout or just pick a rock that faces east. Either way, you won't be disappointed.

    Fun hike!! Super crowded, like everyone tells you. And quite windy at the top, I had a few layers on. We were also there in the AM, maybe it warms up later? It was totally clouded in when we went but despite the fog coverage...it's a pretty cool hike. I'd recommend trying to camp in the fire lookout! Looked pretty awesome!

    Fun hike, steep but short, it almost feels like cheating to get such views! However, on a cloudy day you are out of luck, there will be absolutely nothing to see at the top. Also fun to glissade down with the spring snow!

    Leave No Trace

    Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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