Park Butte Lookout (Sep 3, 2011)

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park_butte_lo_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Baker Pass
Area: Mt Baker
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's North Cascades National Park Region
Stats: 8mi, 2155' gain (round trip)

Nothing too special about this trip other than another lookout site that I can check off my list :)

It was a late season trip so I knew I wouldn't have trouble getting to the trailhead of having to jockey to find a parking spot among all the snowmobile trailers.

I arrived early and surprisingly, for a nice day, the large lot was relatively empty. Nice.

The trail starts out pretty flat as it skirts the edge of Schriebers Meadow. Then, nearing the first creek crossing I had to keep an eye out for a crossing of the creek and the trail on the opposite side. I've heard the crossing can vary in location from year to year. I didn't seem to have too much trouble finding the planks and logs down to cross the creek. Late season the crossing seemed not all that bad. Early in the season I can imaging the creek being a real torrent.

On the other side of the creek the trail did a few short, steeper switchbacks and I saw the climbers trail up the RR Grade pealing off to the north. A nice peek-a-boo view of the mountain from here. The tree cover opened up in the basin are below Cathedral Crag. Some patchy snow here and there. Some steep icy snow in others. I'd brought microspikes just in case and they did come in handy for one steep patch of snow.

Just east of Park Butte was a beautiful flat area (under snow) with gorgeous views of the mountain. The trail rounded the east shoulder of PB to the south and then one last steepish trail hike to the lookout. Just as I arrived a pair of hikers was exiting the LO, they had spent the night. They asked if I was planning an overnight stay. I hadn't thought of it and pondered the idea of an unplanned overnight stay since I was the "first one up" (lookouts that are not staffed or available for rental are available to visitors on a first-come first-serve basis) but decided against it. I'll have to check into the possibility if I return.

I had a nice long visit at the lookout. Plenty of time to catch the awesome in your face views. Some time reading. Eventually, sadly...time to head out...

More information on the lookout: The L-4 cab was built in 1933 and was manned into the 1960's. The current structure is available on a first come first service basis.
Park Butte Lookout Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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