Hike to Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout

Twin Lakes Trailhead

One of the greatest reward for least amount of effort in the North Cascades. Stay the night in a historical Fire Lookout (1st come, 1st Serve). Campsites at lake or on the summit area.

Winchester Mountain is said to have the greatest reward for least amount of effort in all the North Cascades. One of the last fire-lookouts in the region stands on the summit. Views from the summit of Winchester Mountain are beautiful and dramatic to say the least. Being one of the easiest hikes on Hwy 542, it gains only 1,300ft in 2.5 miles from Twin Lakes.

NOTE: A high clearance vehicle is required to drive Twin Lakes Road beyond the Yellow Aster Butte trailhead. Otherwise park at the Yellow Aster Butte trailhead and hike 2 miles and 1,600ft to Twin Lakes (5,200ft). This will change the total mileage from 5 miles round-trip to 9 miles.

GETTING THERE:

  • From I-5 take exit 255 (Sunset/Mt Baker hwy) and drive east 31 miles to the town of Glacier
  • Drive another 13.5 miles and take a left on forest service road 3065 (Twin Lakes Road)
  • Drive 5 miles (stay left at all forks) park at the Yellow Aster Butte/Lake Tomyhoi trailhead
  • From here high clearance vehicles may be able to drive beyond this point but it gets very rough. Park at Twin Lakes Trailhead.

Pack List

  • 10 Essentials
  • Water/Snacks
  • Snowshoes/Crampons in Snow
  • Northwest Forest Pass
  • Sleeping Bag if staying in lookout
  • Tent/Overnight Gear if camping on summit or lakes.
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RT Distance 3.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 1320 Feet
Activities Camping, Fishing, Photography, Snowshoeing, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Gorgeous Hike

One of my favorite hikes when I lived in Bellingham. The best views I witnessed up there was right after the first dusting of snow but the fall colors were still bright orange and red.. Very beautiful scene!

One of the best hikes in the area!

Had a great time backpacking to the lookout tower, although steep the hike is relatively short and only takes around an hour to complete. Definitely one of my favorite views of Mt. Baker. Try to come on a new moon to see the milky way and aurora borealis!

Incredible views!

This hike has it all. We went during the week, and not only had the place to ourselves, but the fire lookout as well. It would have been a cold, windy night without it! I would rate this hike as beginner, with the drive up the road to get there being advanced :-/ Even in a compact SUV it was challenging and I got stuck a few times. Made it though and it was totally worth it. I kayaked in the lake for a bit before starting the hike, and if you do want to stay by the lake, there are lots of great little sites with flat tent sites and fire pits. Incredible views that I almost didn't feel worthy of seeing for the little effort it took to hike up -- so good!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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