Winter Hike to Winchester Mountain

Twin Lakes Trailhead - Search Nearby - 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.
Distance

3.5 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

1320 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

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

Forest
Scenic

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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