Mount Pilchuck Trail

HARD 492 reviews

Mount Pilchuck Trail is a 4.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Granite Falls, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
4.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2125 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

rocky

scramble

snow

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.

hiking
7 days ago

You’ll have to walk 6 miles to trailhead from Heather Lake TH due to road blockage. It was too much for me to take on the additional trek and turned around at 4 miles. Some snow at mile 4 on the road. There were some epic waterfalls along the way though. I’ll have to come a little later in the year when they open the access road back up.

7 days ago

Trail is currently closed. We ended up doing Heather Lake instead.

hiking
13 days ago

Hiked this trail with my uncle when I was 10 yrs old. Instilled in me a love for hiking and the outdoors. Great panoramic view from the summit on clear days!

21 days ago

Hiked this trail late April of 2017. This was fairly challenging but well worth it.

The trail varied from well marked and groomed, to minimal markings in the rocky areas. I had to read through reviews ahead of time (glad i did) to get a sense of how to navigate the rocky portions.

There were several vistas that provided an opportunity to stop and rest while enjoying the view.

I would recommend taking this hike early in the morning because towards the afternoon it gets dark on the way down. the entire hike including a 45 min lunch at the top took me about 5-6 hours at a steady pace.

The fire tower at the top was great. Plenty of room despite the 10-15 other hikers I met up there.

Well worth the hard work to get to the top. but I would plan a whole day so you don't have to rush.

2 months ago

Hard but worth it

hiking
3 months ago

I went in November and trail didn't have snow till half way up.we didn't have right shoes or microspike but we able to go the top and great view!

3 months ago

Road to the trail head is closed for the season at Heather Lake trail head, be prepared to hike an additional 5 miles up the road to Mt pilchuck’s trail head.

hiking
3 months ago

One of my husband's and I's favorites!

koo koo machoo

hiking
5 months ago

Well went hiking. They closed the trail head and I had to start all the way from heather lake. Snow was crazy but I wanted to do it. I had to stop at the 2 mile mark because my party got too tired. I am going to do this again.

hiking
5 months ago

25NOV17 Hike, great weather & views. Snow startling between ~3,000-3,500 feet. Ok without spikes, bit “greasy” in spots coming down. Poles & spikes recommended. You can do it in trail running shoes apparently, as some were doing but that seems a recipe for cold, wet feet. Fire tower covered in ice, last bit to the ladder & the ladder itself a bit slick but ok without spikes if you are careful. Love this hike, will be doing it in all seasons.

6 months ago

Awesome trail.

6 months ago

I enjoyed the hike. Very rocky though. Amazing views. I would hike this one again.

6 months ago

It has some great views and an old lookout. U have to scramble boulders to reach it. A tiny bit of snow on the side of the trail close to the top. This trail has a lot of rocks u must step on. It is a good workout. We went today Sunday and it is a
Popular trail w lots of people and dogs. I only saw 2 owners with dogs on leash’s. Parts of the trail was muddy. It was a beautiful fall day and we could hear hunters across the valley. The scenery is fabulous as it used to be a ski area in the 60’s.

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

Wow- this is an amazing hike! Great trail, some muddy areas, snow on trail at top, easy to navigate with hiking shoes. Didn’t need spikes, used poles. Boulder climbing is dangerous but so fun to get to the top. 360 degree views on a 60 degree sunny day. Can’t be beat. Digs had trouble up the boulders. This week is supposed to be great weather! Road up from highway is gravel & potholes. Used 4x4 truck

hiking
7 months ago

Interesting hike with the snow and all. Didn't risk the rocks going to the tower though. Didn't want to risk slipping. Beautiful hike, nonetheless. Will have to do it again on a clear day.

Beautiful but very crowded. Trail is a mix of mud, water, snow and ice. I would suggest micro spikes.

hiking
7 months ago

I hiked Mount Pilchuck yesterday and it was beautiful! I personally loved the middle section with the stream, rocks, and fall colors! By time I got to the top it was snowing - the lookout even had ice on it.

I knew I was taking a chance hiking it on a rainy day but it was so foggy at the top you couldn't see anything. I'd love to come back and hike this in the summer (or a sunny day)!!

A few things to note:
- The road has some pretty big pot holes but I made it in a car just fine.
- This trail is very rocky and slippery when it's rainy so don't try and hike this in tennis shoes! I saw several people slip and hurt themselves.
- I would consider this hike more moderate than hard for sure!

7 months ago

One of the best hikes I've been on. Really fortunate to have such a clear day. The elevation challenged our group but the break at the top for lunch was epic.

hiking
7 months ago

Stunning views at end of a challenging hike but well worth the climb. Occasionally difficult to find trail (on wide rock face in 2nd half of hike - head left) but mostly easy to see. Watch out for transmission eating pot holes on road up! WA

hiking
7 months ago

Love this hike. I went on a hot, sunny day and saw people coming down in shorts... It was cold at the top though and there was a lot of slippery snow. Next time, I'll bring my spikes.

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike. The difficulty comes from being very steep at some parts and the rock crawling at the end. Worth it!

7 months ago

Best hike ever!!!

hiking
7 months ago

Very steep paths, great hike but i've done better hikes with a lot less work.
Great going in the early months of the year & slide down the self made slides, makes going back 10 times more faster! But definitely wear waterproof clothing.
Great getting shots for the drone but limited space to land on!

hiking
7 months ago

Probably one of the best hikes so far! Breathtaking views, the landscape constantly changes, starting of with forests, then rocks. Wear comfortable footwear. Bring plenty of water. Still reminiscing on the hike!

hiking
7 months ago

This was one of my favorite hikes. I would definitely recommend to only wear hiking shoes/boots when going on this hike. There are a lot of rocks and boulders that you need to climb and it can get really slippery if you are wearing sneakers. Also, the last 7 miles to the trailhead isn't so bad. I had a small rental compact car and I did just fine there and back.

hiking
8 months ago

Not for a newer hiker. The rocks are insane. I can handle elevation but those rocks and boulders are incredibly difficult. The only reason for "1 star" is to warn others like me that you need a couple years of hiking under your belt. I have only been hiking this summer. Beautiful but extreme.

hiking
8 months ago

Hiked on 9/10 in the early PM. I really enjoyed this hike - it felt very unique/different to many of the others I've been on in WA. The trail is well maintained and there's a fantastic change in scenery as you ascend up the mountain (lush/green forests at the beginning and arid/rocky overlooks towards the top). It's not the easiest terrain to hike - requires good balance (and good knees) navigating the rocky pathway - but I didn't find the hike to be all too difficult. Even on a cloudy day, the views at the top were spectacular, and the fire-tower (and guitar in it) is an absolute treat.

As other's have pointed out, 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 MEGA potholes throughout. You'll need to drive slowly, cautiously, and be ready to swerve to avoid potholes as they appear.

I was shocked by the number of individuals hiking in flip-flops, converse, and other non-hiking footwear. It's tough terrain and I wouldn't recommend doing it in shoes lacking ankle support. Why risk getting hurt and why make the hike 2x as hard for yourself - it just doesn't seem smart to me!? I also don't think I'd recommend bringing dogs.

hiking
8 months ago

Wow! I had a friend visiting from DC and we decided on a spontaneous sunset hike up to Mt Pilchuck Lookout, a trail I had never done. We reached the trailhead at 5pm and made it to the lookout at 7pm in time for the 7:30pm sunset. The air was clear, the lookout was uncrowded, the view was utterly spectacular, the bugs were nowhere to be found, and the mountain squirrels were curious and adorable. :) There were panoramic views of the Cascades, Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, down to Seattle and the Sound, the Olympics in relief as the sun set in the west. The changing colors - greens, purples, blues, oranges, yellows, reds - were gorgeous. The hike was moderately difficult due to the rock scrambles near the top, so we did our best to descend through the worst of those before completely losing daylight. We timed it well by leaving the summit just before the sun dropped below the horizon, and we relied on headlamps for the last half of the hike down.

I'm glad we rented an AWD vehicle since the road to the trailhead was dirt and potholed.

Will definitely hike this one again!

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