Hidden Lake Lookout

The hottest day of the year was on tap. A chnace of thundershowers in much of the mountains. Gary, John, and I decided to head north. I had hiked to Hidden Lake Lookout just once in August 2001 with the Mountaineers. It was a hot day with some of the worst biting flies I have ever encountered. I had planned to return soon on a less buggy day. Well, 14 years had passed since then. For Gary, his last visit was a year or two farther back than mine. John had never been up and was in for a treat. To beat the heat we met in Lynnwood at 6:00 am. Up to Marblemount and down the Cascade River Road. I coaxed my sedan up the rocky road to the end. Much to our surprise the lot was nearly full at 8:10 am. I took the last spot on the left. That left about four parallel parking spots behind the other cars. It pays to be early.

We were packed up and on our way by 8:25 am. It was already warm. The route starts with a mile or so of forest hiking. The forest was cool and easy walking. There were many wooden steps and boardwalks that must have been put in since 2001. I really did not recall any of it. We popped out to the forest and entered the brush. The climb up has varying degrees of brush. Sometimes very open and at times more enclosing. The wildflowers began here and they were outstanding. The lookout has terrific views but the wildflower show was a real treat. We made very slow progress as we spent as much time shooting photos as walking.

There was quite a variety including Sitka valerian, thistles, columbine, Indian paintbrush, lots of tiger lilies, elephant's head, monkey flower, asters, bistort, penstemon, harebells,  and more. Great colors and the morning light was excellent. As the trail climbed more peaks came into view. Early on we could see Lookout Mountain. A few groups were more summit oriented that photos and they passed us by. After climbing steadily the grade lessened and we started one of the best parts of the hike. The brush and flowers gave way to more open conditions as we traversed to the east in subalpine terrain with many small cascading creeds to cross. Blooming heather provided the color. The great views out to peaks, the small waterfalls, and the easy grade made for very pleasant hiking.

The first switchback started the climb up to the top. We had a glimpse of Snowking to the south and then a piece of the lookout building came into sight. There was a little snow to cross closer to the ridge top. It was 11:30 am when we stopped for a little food and water shortly before reaching the ridge. It was getting very hot by this time. The views were great at our lunch spot and only grew better higher up. What snow we hiked up was no problem in low top boots. At the saddle we had views down to Hidden Lake and out to the the peaks along the Cascade River Eldorado, Boston, Sahale, and Johannesburg. Mt. Baker had been in sight for some time. While there was some snow at the saddle the route to the top is nearly snow free. Just a little down low.

The last climb to the lookout was a little farther than I had recalled. We reached the lookout at 12:08 pm. Nearly four hours to hike up four miles is not very fast. Considering all the photo opportunities and the heat it was not all that bad. I went into the lookout and quickly found out it was much hotter than out in the sunshine. We found a little shade on one side and finished our lunches. The view from the lookout really is exceptional. From Baker to Shuksan to Eldorado to the whole Ptarmigan Traverse route to Glacier Peak and Sloan Peak. We could even see Whitehorse and Three Fingers. There is not a lot of snow left in the Cascades but most of it must be in the North Cascades. One of these days I'll spend a night in the lookout.

Before we left I met Chris once again. He recognized me on Dirty Face Peak in 2006. We had a nice conversation on the summit. Last year we met again on Mt. Dickerman. This February we met yet again atop Beckler Peak. And now one more time at Hidden Lake Lookout. It's fun to get reacquainted with someone met on a mountain top. At 1:12 pm we headed down. We had just over an hour on top. As we descended it kept getting hotter. Marblemount was forecast to reach 99 this day. I'm not a fan of hours above tree level on the hottest day of the year but with the flowers and views it was well worth it. The afternoon lighting was not as good as in the morning.

We took far fewer photos on the way down. My goal was just to get into the cooler forest. Though the lot was nearly full when we left in the morning we kept seeing more parties coming up. Not a huge crowd but since the narrow road seemed to provide no spots and the lot itself was nearly full, where were they all parking? The last thing I would want to do is to hike up that trail on a very hot day with an overnight backpack. Credit to those who did it. At long last we did reach the forest. It was much cooler. The last mile was even pleasant. Nonetheless, I was glad to see the cars. To my amazement there were about 10 cars parked along (in) the road. We went into the ditch a little to avoid them when driving out. So, about 26 cars can be crammed into parking spots.

This turned out to be an excellent choice for a hike this day. At the 6890' lookout we had great views and were high enough to be a little cooler than down low. The extent of the wildflower show was a pleasant surprise. There were folks seen along the trail but it was never crowded. This trip deserves to be hiked much more than every 14 years. I hope to be back soon.

Out Of The Forest
Lookout Mt. Lookout
Beautiful Tiger Lilies
Multiple Colors
Thimble Paintbrush
Purple & Orange
Many Tiger Lilies
More Wildflowers
White Spotted Sable Moth
Lit Up Paintbrush
Bevy Of Paintbrush
View Down Valley
Very Bright
John Taking Photos
Salmon Paintbrush
Elephant's Head
Monkey Flower
Little Devil Peak
Green & Ice
Group Shot
Framed By Trees
Gary On Trail
Mt. Baker Shadows
Summit Is In Sight
Snowking Mountain
Lunch Below Lookout
Nearing Saddle
Summit From Saddle
Hidden Lake
Heading To The Top
Almost To Lookout
Snowking To South
Glacier Peak
Sloan Peak
Mt. Shuksan
Mt. Baker
Ptarmigan Peaks
Lake & Cascade Pass
Eldorado Peak
Hidden Lake Ridge
Heading Down
Descent Route
Cascading Creek
Open Meadows
Bring Your Own Shade
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2015