Mount Pilchuck Trail

HARD 1205 reviews

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

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

scramble

snow

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.

hiking
icy
snow
23 days ago

Went on a whim because of the great weather - didn’t realize the road is closed. Park at Heather Lake trail parking and walk probably 4mi one way to the trailhead (moderate steady incline). Mt Pilchuck trail itself got pretty covered in snow about halfway up, made it about 2/3 before turning around as I was alone and have never done the trail and the boulder field felt sketchy with a blanket of snow. It was still a great adventure and a beautiful day, possibly with snowshoes or better trail knowledge than I have you’d make it! Just leave extra time for the long up and back on the road. Bring a headlamp!

hiking
1 month ago

Completed Pilchuck this last Saturday. The parking lot was empty as the conditions were extremely poor. Lots of rain and snow, and very icey. I made the trip from Vancouver, so I was going regardless. Trail was in good shape, but again, the elements really disrupted that. As an experienced hiker, I found this to be a nice challenge. Used spikes on the way down, and poles both up and down. I went alone, but I would definitely suggest going with someone else if you’re not that experienced, especially this time of year. Had the mountain to myself once at the summit, no better feeling than that. I was up and down in 3.5 hours, but maybe give yourself a bit more time. Have fun, and be safe out there!

hiking
1 month ago

Trail in good condition; road bad as usual. Needed microspikes for the last 1/3 of the hike. Lookout cabin was open but had to crawl through an opening about 2 feet in height to get in. Shutters are closed so it’s dark inside. For the relatively small elevation gain, this is a challenging hike for me but so worth it. Although we did not have a view due to fog.

icy
rocky
snow
1 month ago

First things first... the road up to pilchuck... POTHOLE CENTRAL. Like wholly crap. but. its true that it is paved the last 2 miles. There is a bathroom at the trailhead, but it was kind of gross and had no toilet paper. The hike itself was great! snowy, icy, water all on the trail. The lookout itself was closed, and you will need microspikes. It was very cloudy when we went up, so now views... but the hike was fun and we will be back on a sunny day!

hiking
1 month ago

This was a “lost dogs” hike. We didn’t do the whole hike. At about 1.5 miles the owners were hauling ass up the trail because they said the dogs were up past the boulder field. They got loose below so that’s where we were looking. I forgot how beautiful this hike is, even in the rain and fog. I’ll be back, hopefully snow covered.

hiking
icy
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Arrived to the trail at 10am and finished at 1:30pm. It started out pretty icy so we had microspikes the whole way up but on the way down we took them off for some spots since it had melted a bit. Hiking poles we're really helpful when I didn't havd the spikes on since it was still frequently slippery. Foggy today with no view but still just good to get out and hike- the fire tower was open and nice to have a covered Bench to sit on but the shutters are down so you can't sit inside and look out. The road is certainly very very rough with potholes most of the way up until it becomes paved for the last little bit. Thanks Pilchuck for a good first visit.

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
1 month ago

hiking
snow
1 month ago

hiking
icy
rocky
scramble
snow
1 month ago

Beautiful hike today! Views of all the mountains. Very icy from start and snow on most of trail to top. Wore spikes whole time but didn’t need poles. Potholes are bad on road up so take it slow!

hiking
icy
snow
1 month ago

One of our favorite hikes, gorgeous day, fantastic views. As always the road is a maze of potholes. You can probably navigate those with a car with reasonable ground clearance, but ... when you clear the pothole sections you’ll soon be into the snow line and the road is snow covered and icy. You can make it up without 4WD or chains but I put my 4Runner into 4WD on the way up. Coming down several people slid off the road into the brush. I had no problems but I kept it in 4WD, low gear, and kept my speed down. So play it smart & you will be ok, be an idiot and you will be in the brush or put your chains on. The trail is in good shape, snow covered most of the way. The first few hundred meters is a sheet of ice. You can pick your way up but spikes highly recommended. I didn’t use my spikes on the ascent but put them on at the summit for the trip down. Again, you can pick your way down without spikes but there are icy stretches and even though the snow was dry it can be slippery, it’s a rocky track, if you go down it is not going to be a pleasant experience. Remember, it’s winter conditions, if you can’t make it down under your own power you better have gear enough to stay warm for 12-24 hours until you can be rescued.

hiking
icy
rocky
scramble
snow
1 month ago

Awesome awesome hike with amazing views, but hikers be prepared. (And drivers too). The road to the trail has a resemblance of the moon with craters everywhere! Higher clearance vehicles and patience will get your there no problem! I drove my 4WD Honda Crosstour and made it just fine! The trail was discouraging at first as it literally was a sheet of ice, looked like we were hiking up a frozen stream. Trust that this is short-lived and passable! Clamp-ons are a good idea but my friend and I only used them on the way down. The rest of the hike is fairly smooth with great views, once you reach the tower it is again jarring as you have some berg fancy footwork to get to the tower. Well worth all the extra effort!

hiking
icy
rocky
snow
1 month ago

Experience: awesome! Weather: 30-40 at start, below zero at top Date: 11/25/2019, light rain at start(0730), foggy/windy/icy at peak(0930), View: foggy/ominous Trail: 1/3-wooded_2/3-rocky_3/3-icy, light layer of snow - going up didn't feel I needed spikes. Going down I had to use my butt as a form of transport - would recommend spikes for the way down. Road: potholes large enough to swallow up a tricycle - need to go slow and you'll make it up no problem. Cleared using a full size sedan, with hardly 5 inches of clearance. Saw a few compact cars at the top as well so it's doable in any vehicle (driver dependent of course). Summary - I almost didn't even attempt this hike due to the reviews regarding the pothole situation on the road to the trailhead. I'm glad they didn't deter me away - the hike was incredible. Challenging, and rewarding even in with low visibility. The fire station lookout at the top is a great spot to get out from the wind - once you crawl into the space as the weather shutters are down during the winter months.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Great hike even though there was no view from the lookout. Hiked yesterday and the fog and wind swept in so fast. Still made for a really cool hike. The terrain is incredible. Super rocky hike, and definitely icy. I had my microspikes but didn’t put them on. Found I could navigate around it pretty well. Definitely not a great time for dogs, children, or elderly people with knee issues. The physical output is only moderate but the terrain and icy conditions makes this trail difficult right now. Road was definitely full of potholes on the way up so make sure your car has good clearance! My cross trek made it up fine.

hiking
icy
1 month ago

Hiked this today and trail was very icy for most of it. Our party used microspikes for most of it but we had a dog with us and we spent a lot of the time trying to keep her from sliding off cliffs. We ended up turning back slightly before the end because there was no visibility anyway. Would not recommend bringing dogs right now and if you humans go, definitely bring microspikes.

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