Mount Pilchuck Trail is a 6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Granite Falls, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and snowshoeing and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 6.0 miles Elevation Gain: 2,125 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

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rocky

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Note: The hut at the top is closed off. Dress accordingly and be prepared to cross plenty of mud and snow as late as mid summer. Mount Pilchuck Trail is a challenging hike to a old fire lookout tower at the top the mountain that offers panoramic views. The trailhead is located within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in the North Cascades area of Washington State off of Mountain Loop Highway. The hiking trail itself is in Mount Pilchuck State Park. The trail is well maintained and there's a fantastic change in scenery as you ascend up the mountain, starting with lush/old growth forests at the beginning and then transcending into arid/rocky overlooks towards the top. The terrain can be rough and requires good balance to navigate the rocky pathway. From the top of the lookout tower there are great views of Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, the Puget Sound, and the Olympics. This popular hike is one of the busiest trails in the area so expect to see others. Arrive at the trailhead early to secure a parking spot. The final stretch of road leading to the trailhead is in very rough shape. The last few miles are comprised of crushed stone/dirt and contains potholes throughout.

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bugs
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1 day ago

minus the bugs and potholes on the road. awesome trail. bring crampons.

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muddy
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4 days ago

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muddy
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6 days ago

Drive up to the trail has MASSIVE potholes. Took 2 1/2 hrs to get to the top .. went in regular tennis shoes, nothing fancy. BUT if you have fancy equipment USE IT. most people had poles, gators, boots... id bring gloves next time too... The first half of the trail is muddy with a few trees you have to jump over. The other half is completely snow with sketchy areas. It was definitely fun but go early and with people if you’re not that experienced. The hut at the top is closed off (windows shut ) but it seems someone broke open the door. Literally slid down on our butts going down (fun but freezing). Bring bug spray for the beginning of the hike and sunscreen for the 2nd half! Not very kid/dog friendly. ( there was a dog that was recently lost up there )... this hike isn’t how it normally is when there is no snow. If you want to live life on the edge this hike is for you. If not, maybe wait until the snow melts! It’s 100% doable but can get a little scary ... especially with some of the snow starting to melt and having your foot break through the snow to your knee. Stay safe and have fun! P.s you can NOT buy day passes right now ... they are not selling them at the store near by cause I guess the forest people aren’t selling them. Discover passes do not work at this trail. If you have a pass from last year that’s your best ~legal~ bet.

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6 days ago

Arrived at the trail Friday 5/29 about 7:15 am. Ample parking available. Only 3 cars ahead of me. Trailhead road is a total minefield of potholes, craters, and uneven pavement along the way. High clearance HIGHLY recommended but I did it in my sedan. Driving slow, took me 40 minutes with lots of dodging and weaving fueled by an energy drink, determination, and a little bit of stupidity. But that sets the theme for the hike in an entirety. Beginning of the trail is immediately wet and muddy through your typically PNW fern, moss, and forest feel for the first 1.25m or so. Couple downed trees to climb over. Then about .25m of rock scrambles. Then this is where the snow and fun really begins. This was my first summit, also first time on Pilchuck, and I found the trail easy to navigate from previous tracks. Snow wasn’t challenging to walk in as it was still fairly early and hadn’t begun to melt any at that point. Trail goes through some patches of boulders which felt a little confusing for a moment until you caught sight of the trail on the opposite side. Near summit the trail came to an alpine tree passing where I seemed to have lost sight of the trail. I had the lookout tower in sight so instead of going back around I chose to climb up and over more boulders. Man oh man. The view at the top was absolutely breathtaking on a beautiful clear sunny day. Mountains and peaks all around me in every single direction for a complete panoramic view of Baker, Cascades, Rainier, Olympics, and even Puget Sound. Going back down near summit was a little more nerve wrecking as one wrong step, or post hole could be potentially life threatening. Once back to the “openness” of the trail is was a simple descent. Sliding/glissading down at times was preferable and sometimes accidental. Gear: I had waterproof hiking boots, trekking poles, micro spikes, gaiters, and an ice axe. All served their purpose accordingly. One guy made it to the lookout with no more than boots, others were trying it with tennis shoes, no equipment, no water, no shirt, and in my opinion; no sense. This hike is certainly highly enjoyable as it’s challenging, and rewarding. There were times where it was very sketchy and dangerous. Nature is unforgiving, so please be cautious and come prepared.

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6 days ago

A little muddy and a few blow down trees to navigate and a little rocky for the first half. Snow started about halfway up, and I just used my boots for a while but then eventually needed microspikes because the snow was a little slushy from the sun. Pretty easy to follow a few footsteps up along the trail. I think microspikes and poles are necessary because there were a few dicey places where you had to go up a little steep snow chute etc. The footsteps didn't seem to follow the original trail towards the top but seem to cut closer to the ridge, but they were generally heading towards the tower, so all was good. Two hours to get to the top and with lots of picture stops and to to get down due to slipperiness and chatting with several hikers coming up at a social distance. The road definitely requires high-clearance vehicles, or you'll be driving pretty slow in fear of losing a bumper or throwing out your alignment. However, if you're normally blessed to have one of those super jacked-up off-road vehicles it might actually be too tall and you might not get under a tree or to that had fallen, laying above and across the road. I should have measured how high it was to let you all know, but my standard 2016 F-150 made it under with room to spare. All of the challenges were so worth it though. Stunning views from Baker to Rainier from Glacier to the Olympics. What a brilliant playground!

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8 days ago

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9 days ago

The view is worth it- all I got to say. Do this trail when it’s sunny

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10 days ago

Done on 5/18- We took our dogs on this hike, would NOT suggest taking them!!! There’s so many places where they could fall, if they are pullers on leashes definitely don’t take as they could cause you to fall very easily going up. A lot of snow, for sure take micro spikes or crampons! Our dogs could not make it up as the last sections were way to steep for them, we also didn’t have an ice axe on us which I would HIGHlY recommend. We had poles with us which helped a bit. All trails maps that I downloaded were also not helpful, everyone was going up a different route but no matter where we turned it was a bit too steep for our pups/ unsafe for them to go. Definitely going to retry in 2 months once the snow is gone, not sure about what the avalanche risk is. There were about 5 cars parked at the side of the road when we got there, not many more when we came back out. If you’re having issues with too many people being at the lot try going on a weekday as I have seen that being much less of an issue.

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11 days ago

This is third time I’ve done Pilchuck and right now is by far the wildest time to go. We were originally planning on a sunrise hike but due to reviews opted in for just an early AM venture. I am so glad we didn’t go in the dark! Wouldve had to turn around. We got to the trailhead at 7 am which was perfect timing as the lot still had quite a few spots open. The sun was out and seeing both the road and trail was vital for this hike at this time. For reference- I’m a very experienced hiker, hiking 2-3 times a week under normal circumstances. If you value your life, please do not forget your microspikes! It is very snowy and very slippery for a good portion of the trail. There are tons of tree wells, giant holes, fallen trees, crevasses, and sketchy cornices all within feet of the trail. Glissading and sledding down the open field sections made for a wild ride down, but again, very dangerous for anyone without experience! Just be very cautious and bring a little sack to sit on for the sled ride down!

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