Here is the progression of our favorite trail accessible peaks along the the Mountain Loop Highway starting from Granite Falls in the Southwest working east and north to Darrington.
- Mount Pilchuck 6 miles – 2,500 foot elevation gain
Clocking in at under 6 miles and 2,500 vertical feet this peak is easy to access with a grand view payoff from the fire look out.
Positioned perfectly at the Western edge of the Cascade Mountains for views across Washington’s North Cascades across the Salish Sea to the west and volcanos to the south. Serves as a great introduction to peaks deeper in the Mountain Loop Highway.
- Vesper Peak 8 miles – 4,200 foot elevation gain
Travel through lush forests crossing streams climbing a brushy slope to continue along the valley to ascend Headlee pass which traverses into the Lake Vesper Basin. From here the trail turns to low angle stone talus and slabs. Rock cairns that lead the way directly up the sea of granite to the summit.
- Mount Dickerman 8.6 miles – 3,820 foot elevation gain
Mount Dickerman, with it’s smooth well-maintained trail and central location in the Mountain Loop highway offering wrap around views of craggy peaks and volcanoes makes for the perfect peak baggers hike.
- Mount Forgotten 13 miles – 4,300 foot elevation gain
A long peaceful stretch of trail above Perry Creek reaches the sublime Mount Forgotten Meadows before becoming more precipitous traversing a steep ridge and climbing the final scramble shoot to the exposed summit.
- Mount Pugh 11 miles – 5,300 foot elevation gain
Reach the fire lookout post built in 1916 and try to imagine load carrying mules on the steep rocky and exposed path that climbs a vertical mile. A pleasant forest hike past lake Metan crosses open alpine bowls up to Stujack Pass where an unlikely trail winds along the craggy ridges to the lookout summit.
The Mountain Loop Highway is home to other impressive peaks which require off trail mountaineering skills. Big 4 Mountain easily visible from the visitor’s viewpoint rises abruptly above the popular Big 4 Ice Caves trail. Monte Christo Area Peaks accessible from Barlow pass. Popular bike/hike/climb possibilities in this rugged terrain. From Gothic Basin, Del Campo Peak and Gothic Peak scrambles loom above. Foggy Peak rises above Goat Lake and Glacier Basin. Columbia and Keyes Peaks form a high country barrier between Lake Blanca and Twin Lakes on the Monte Christo side.
With possibly the most dramatic and remote; Sloan Peak (the Matterhorn of the North Cascades) find high adventure on the classic Cork Screw and West Face routes.
Be sure to pack the 10 essentials and check recent trip reports for trail conditions on the Washington Trails Association web site before you go.
□ Big 4 Ice Caves
□ Lake 22 – Contribute
□ Heather Lake – Contribute
□ Lake Evan Boardman Lake
□ Monte Christo Trails Glacier Basin, Silver, Twin Lakes
□ Gothic Basin
□ Cuttrhroat Lakes
□ Ashland Lakes Walt Baily Trail