The Park Butte Trail takes you to a historic fire lookout built in 1932, on top of a knoll with 360° panoramic views. From the lookout, Mount Baker (aka Koma Kulshan) steals the show, but the surrounding ridge lines are also worth staring at open-mouthed.
Hiking to Park Butte Lookout takes you through a mushroom and wildflower-filled mountain wonderland dotted with gushing waterfalls. It is 3.5 miles one-way to the lookout, with 2100 feet elevation gain, but the excursion flies by because there is so much beauty to take in.
- Distance: 7 miles out and back
- Hike Time: 4-5 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 2100 feet
- Fee: Northwest Forest Pass
- Dogs: Yes
- Difficulty: Moderate
Hiking to Park Butte Lookout
In September 2016, for my 27th birthday, Kim, Arrow the Cattle Dog, and I hiked to Park Butte Lookout.
It was a Friday afternoon and the trail was busy but not overwhelmingly so. This is probably the most popular hike on Mount Baker.
The first mile or so of the hike has a mellow grade as the trail meanders through sparse forest and Schreibers Meadow. From there, you will climb up some moderately steep switchbacks to gain the plateau below Cathedral Crag.
I thought the rest of the hike to the lookout was pretty easy. In fact, I would go as far as to say this is the easiest hike with 2000-foot gain I’ve ever done. I hope your experience is the same!
From Seattle, get on I-5 northbound and take exit 232 for State Route 20. Continue on State Route 20 for 16.9 miles, then turn left onto Baker Lake Road. Continue for 12.2 miles, then turn left onto NF-12. Continue for 3.5 miles, then turn right onto NF-13. Continue for 5.1 miles, then park in the dirt lot at the “Easton Glacier Climbing Route” trailhead.
Want to hike Washington’s best trails? Check out our other Washington Hiking Guides.