Mileage: 8.5 miles RT
Elevation Gain/Highest: 3300/6500ft
Map: Green Trails Cascade Pass No 80
6/6/2015 I am writing this trip report some time after doing this hike but I still remember how the sun felt on my skin and the anticipation of reaching the lookout that sits beckoning you for most of this hike. At least that is how it felt as I made my way along.
This hike starts out in the forest like a lot of hikes do but it isn’t long before you are out on the slopes of the mountain with the Cascade range on one side and colorful meadows on the other.
Everywhere I turned my head seemed to hold a rainbow of colors, spring was in the air and summer was quickly coming.
There was just a little bit of snow left in the basin before you begin that final push to the summit and the lookout, but mud and tarn were in abundance.
The trail is popular so you will find the destruction of braided trail where folks didn’t stay on the established path (mostly because of the mud) and walked on the meadow beside it creating ribbons of parallel scars.
I had the trail to myself up to this point but could see tiny hikers ahead on the switchbacks that take you up to the ridge. I remember stopping to talk with a couple who must have been in their 80s, slowly and patiently making their way to the top. They clearly had decades of hiking experiences in the PNW and said this was one of their favorite hikes and talked about the Park Butte Lookout, as well. I hoped to hike as long as they.
There were a few hikers heading out as I approached the summit and I heard them mutter they were glad to have gotten up early before the rush. I have shared that same sentiment on a hike before and envied them. However, it wasn’t bad at the top and the view was stupendous.
There was a little bit of snow on the trail left but I imagine it was gone shortly in the next few weeks. Another group arrived after I found a perch by the lookout, possibly a Mountaineers hike.
I just loved how the ridgeline made a beeline for Glacier Peak off in the distance.
Directions: From Darrington travel north on State Route 530 for 7.5 miles, turning right immediately after the Sauk River bridge onto Forest Road 26 (Suiattle River Road). From Rockport drive south on SR 530 for 11 miles to FR 26. Follow FR 26 first on pavement, then on gravel for 19 miles, turning left onto FR 2680. Continue 6 miles to the trailhead, near the road end (elev. ~3200 ft). You will need a US Forest Pass.