Winter Hike to Winchester Mountain

Rate this Adventure Washington Twin Lakes Trailhead

Added by Stephen Bellrichard

  • Get your Snowshoes out
  • Options for backcountry skiing/boarding
  • Access to snow camping - Campsites at lake or on the summit area
  • Sweeping views of the North Cascades – Great for photography
  • Stay the night in a historical Fire Lookout (1st come, 1st Serve)

Despite this trip report being titled "to Winchester Mountain", the fun doesn’t stop there. Even though Winchester Mountain is the most popular summer hike departing from Twin Lakes, this whole area turns into a fun-zone during the winter.

Upon reaching higher ground above the lakes, this zone offers incredible views of Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, Goat Mountain, Twin Lakes, Winchester Mountain, and a sizable portion of the North Cascades. This place is stunning during any season, however it gets explored much less during the winter months. Crowds are nearly non-existent, and you will likely only share the place with a handful of people.

The opportunities to explore in this zone are seemingly endless – snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, snow camping, photography, hanging out, and maybe even building a snowman or two.

Keep in mind that Forest Service Road 3065 is getting pretty gnarly at this point in the season. DO NOT ATTEMPT to drive up the road (beyond the snow line) under any circumstances if you don’t have a 4x4 vehicle. Even with chains you are putting your life at risk. The road steepens dramatically after passing the trailhead for Yellow Aster Butte, and the vertical drop to the valley floor below increases to ominous heights.

The chance of inclement weather occurring during this season can be very high, and the worst thing possible would be a road that glistens with ice from a flash freeze. The safest option is to 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. Don’t be discouraged by the slight increase in distance. The road will be relatively easy to walk up in comparison to a hiking trail, and it’s downhill on the return trip (which is ideal for anyone who is skiing/boarding).

GETTING THERE:
  • From I-5 take exit 255 (Sunset/Mt. Baker Highway) 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

  • Snowshoes and Insulated/waterproof boots.
  • Gaiters will be hugely beneficial to keep snow from entering your boots
  • If skiing/boarding: Backcountry touring setup/split board
  • Optional Icetrekker boot chains: At this point in the winter season, walking up the road from the Yellow Aster Butte Trailhead is the safest option. The road should not require snowshoes and will be best navigated in snowboots. Compacted snow conditions might exist if it hasn’t snowed in awhile, and Icetrekker boot chains can be useful to avoid falling in just about any slippery condition (Individual results not guaranteed).
  • Trekking poles
  • Avalanche Beacon, Shovel, Probe
  • Winter clothing (Warm beanie, jacket, pants, gloves, helmet, goggles, etc.)
  • 4x4 vehicle to navigate the road to the lake
  • 10 essentials
  • Sack Lunch
  • Plenty of water to remain hydrated
  • Camera
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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography, Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Winter

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

3.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1320 Feet

Features:

Forest
Scenic

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Added by Stephen Bellrichard

Outdoors > Indoors. Enjoys photography, skiing, and exploring of all kinds.

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