Trailblazers: Winchester Mountain Lookout
This hike was redemption for me. Last winter for Trailblazers I attempted to summit Winchester Mountain in the North Cascades via a route made for skiers. Time proved a factor on the hike and I was limited to only making it to the Twin Lakes that sit below the mountain. This time however I came out on top.
Winchester Mountain is situated in one of the most beautiful locations in the Cascades with incredible views of Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker, Goat Mountain and many other unnamed precipices.
The real icing on this cake however is the lookout that is situated atop the mountain. For years forest service rangers used it to spot wildfires, and although today it is decommissioned the Mount Baker Club maintains it for anyone to sleep in.
The trail begins between Twin Lakes and travels 2.1 miles to the lookout. Prepare to switch back through stands of pine and eventually break out above tree line. The incline is mostly agreeable, however there is one slightly exposed rocky section of trail that comes right before a saddle. After this the hike is easy going to the top.
On my hike it took an hour flat to make it up to the top. The entire way up you can look out at Mt. Shuksan being cradled between the two peaks of Goat Mountain. Once you m
ake it to the lookout the entirety of Canada stretches to the north, only miles away.
The lookout itself is a simple example of all it takes to enjoy a night outdoors. One cot sits in the corner, along with a table, chairs and a lightning stool should a storm blow through. The logbook provides an interesting read as you gaze out across the peaks andvalleys; add your own signature to be a permanent part of this place.
This lookout relies on help from it’s visitors to keep it running, so run a broom over the floor before you take off and leave it nicer than how you found it.
The hike is one that I would recommend everyone take the opportunity to do. The input is minimal, but the output is incredible. If you’ve got the time, consider spending a night in the lookout. It’ll be an experience you wont soon forget.