Snowshoe to Park Butte

7.5 miles 2200 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Emily Noyd

Fantastic 4-season hike or snowshoe to a historic lookout at the base of Mt. Baker. Sleeping inside the lookout is quite the reward for a snowshoe overnight trip!

From Highway 20 in Concrete, take a left on Baker River Rd (USFS #11). Follow to USFS #12, then USFS #13 which dead-ends at the trailhead (#603). A Northwest Forest Pass is required, as is a SnoPark Pass November-April.

Starting at an elevation of 3250 ft, the trail quickly intersects with the Scott Paul Trail; stay left for the shortest route. Turning right would bring you on the less-traveled Scott Paul, meeting up with the main route to Park Butte in 6.5 miles rather than 1.8.

On the shorter route, continue through a beautiful meadow (potentially blanketed in snow!). This is a popular route so it's likely the path is defined even if snow-covered. If making first tracks, be sure to have the navigation tools and skills necessary to find your way. Cross boulder fields and the rushing Rocky Creek before climbing switchbacks through the forest.

As promised, in 1.8 miles you will meet up with the Scott Paul Trail at 4400 ft. Continue left, and enter another panoramic meadow with epic views of Koma Kulshan on a clear day. In a short 0.4 miles, the trail intersects with the Railroad Grade Trail (#603.2). This is a great side trip up the terminal moraine of the Easton Glacier. Use caution especially in winter, the narrow path is on a high ridge for 3 miles one-way until the hiking ends and a route to summit Baker begins.

At the Railroad Grade intersection, stay left to reach the Park Butte Lookout. Descend briefly through meadows before climbing the final stretch to the lookout (a total of 1.3 miles). The lookout is at 5450 ft of elevation and located on an isolated rocky outcropping. The shutters are likely closed in fall, winter, and spring, but easily propped open to enter the lookout.

Staying in the lookout is first-come, first-serve, although sharing with fellow hikers is always a fun experience. One creaky but comfy bed can sleep 2, with plenty of floor space for up to 4 more. Don't forget to sign the register and wake up for sunrise!

Check out this adventure for the warmer season hike.

Read More

Tags

Camping
Snowshoeing
Backpacking
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Be prepared! Not intermediate!

Attempted May 21, with snow traction devices and overnight gear as we planned to spend the night up top. Walked 1.2 miles to trailhead as the road was blocked by snow. As expected, the entire trail was under snow. Kept going for several more miles but things got too dicey after the trail splits off from the main one going to Baker. There were absolutely no visible trail markers so we were relying entirely on GPS and a map on our phones. Not even a marker for the trailhead, which is beside the washrooms. Tried to follow the trail approximately, up the steep incline covered in snow. No signs of the summer trail were visible due to the snow and lack of markers, so we were guessing and bushwhacking our way up and down the slope. Dicey with our regular traction devices and I think it would be too steep going downhill with snowshoes. Maybe proper mountaineering crampons with inch long spikes would work. Eventually turned around due to slow pace and unfamiliarity with the trail. I’d recommend going only if you’ve done the trail before, and better yet, if you’ve done it in winter or you have winter backcountry experience, and armed with excellent traction and a good GPS and detailed trail map. I’m looking forward to successfully doing the summer hike version of this in a couple of months.

Stay Nearby

Concrete, Washington

Boulder Creek Campground

Overview Boulder Creek Campground sits along the banks of Boulder Creek in the stunning Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The unique setting offers many recreational activities and scenic views...

Concrete, Washington

Park Creek Campground

Overview Park Creek Campground sits along the banks of Park Creek in the stunning Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The unique setting offers many recreational activities and scenic views. B...

Concrete, Washington

Panorama Point Campground

Overview Panorama Point campground is located on the western shore of Baker Lake in the stunning Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Situated on the west side of the Cascades in Washington, th...

Concrete, Washington

Horseshoe Cove Campground

Overview Horseshoe Cove Campground is nestled under a canopy of forest along the banks of Baker Lake. Located in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest which stretches along the west side o...

Nearby Adventures

  • Backpack the Easton Glacier Railroad Grade

    Begin at the Park Butte trailhead, trail 603. Hike past the first Scott Paul trail sign a few hundred feet from the trailhead. Continue on and cross appropriately name Rocky Creek heading up on the Park Butte Trail. Continue up the Park Butte trai...

    10 miles 3000 ft gain

  • Backpack Park Butte

    Looking for somewhere to backpack or capture the Milky Way on the west slope of the Cascades? Look no further than Park Butte. With some of the best views of Mt. Baker's West Slope, on top of having access to the Park Butte fire lookout, and dozen...

  • Hike to Park Butte Lookout

    This place is really the stuff of fairy tales.Where else can you find a tiny cabin with 360-degree views of stunning mountain scenery? To the west, you can see all the way to Bellingham and the Puget Sound. To the south and east lie the jagged Nor...

    8 miles

  • Climb Mt. Baker via the Easton Glacier Route

    The Easton Glacier route is one of the mountain’s most popular and likewise, most crowded. Check out Mt. Baker’s Squak Glacier route or Coleman Deming Glacier route for an alternative climb with similar difficulty.You’ll start out at Schreibers Me...

    16 miles 7600 ft gain