• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    3.7 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1100 Feet

Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Distance: 3.7 mile lollipop. Elevation gain: 1100 feet. Duration: ~ 4 hours. 360-degree Panoramic views of the Methow Valley, Okanagon Forest and North Cascades. Incredible star and Milky Way viewing. Right outside Winthrop, WA, an old-west town on the Methow River.

The Patterson Mountain loop is the perfect way for a beginner to intermediate hiker to get acquainted with the arid eastern slope of the North Cascades. This 3.7-mile lollipop with about 1100 feet of elevation gain showcases the open country of the high desert, blanketed with wildflowers in the spring and early summer and golden aspens in the autumn, and the sawtooth North Cascade range to the west. It sometimes goes unnoticed due to its proximity to Sun Valley Resort, so you may find yourself sharing the trails with only the mules and deer.

Beginning at the boat launch on the eastern shore of Patterson Lake, cross Patterson Lake Road and start up the trail until you reach a gate. Here you can choose the North Route or South Route. Be sure to close the gate behind you as livestock can escape. Continue along the broad, sage-covered hillside between stands of Aspen and Ponderosa Pine until you reach the spur to the summit. Take a few moments to enjoy the 360-degree view from the top of the North Cascades National Park to the west, the town of Winthrop and the Methow Valley to the north, and the Okanagan Forest to the east.

Stick around after dark for the light show: the Milky Way stretches from horizon to horizon on a clear night. When you’ve soaked in the panoramic vistas to your heart’s content, either head back down the route you came or finish the loop. Be sure to check in at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery here in downtown Winthrop for a pint of their Imperial IPA, one of the best in Washington.

Things to Keep in Mind:
  • A Discovery Pass is required to park at the boat launch trailhead
  • Summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees regularly—dress appropriately and bring plenty of water
  • Rattlesnakes do make their home in the Methow Valley, so keep an eye out for slithery companions
  • Much of the trail winds through pasture lands where signs warn of potentially aggressive mules; keep your distance if you see any
  • The North Cascades Highway is closed due to heavy snow and avalanche danger, usually from November until April. Be sure to check the WA-DOT pass website to make sure Washington Pass is open. Otherwise, approach along Rt. 97 from Wenatchee.

Pack List

  • Hiking Shoes
  • Water (especially in the summer—it’s the desert!)
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Extra layer for the summit (it gets chilly if it’s windy)
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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

Community Photos

+ Add Photos

Reviews

Overall rating:  Rate this Adventure

Leave a Review

Have you done this adventure? Leave a review!

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Sugar Bowl Loop in Kings Canyon NP

Tulare County, California

First and foremost, to get to this trailhead you need to drive down a 2-mile, one lane dirt road that is quite steep.

8 Saves

Hike to Ehukai Pillbox

59178 Ke Nui Road, Hawaii

This hike starts directly across from Banzai Pipeline, the famous barreling wave at Ehukai Beach.

7 Saves

Winter Hike to Calypso Cascades

1046 County Highway 115, Colorado

While most people go snowshoeing near the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge area in RMNP, Wild Basin is a much less trafficked option.

5 Saves