Photo by  Josh Lewis

Photo by Josh Lewis


Name: Mount Pilchuck
Height: 1,629 m (5,344 ft) 
Location: in Snohomish County, Washington, USA
First Climbed: in 1897 by a US Geological Survey crew
Climb Time: 3-5 hours
Best Time to Climb: June-November (it is climbed all year round)

Mount Pilchuck is a mountain in the Cascade Range in, Snohomish County, Washington. It is 57 miles (92 km) northeast of Seattle.

Mount Pilchuck is located within Mount Pilchuck State Park, but the area surrounding the mountain is within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It is estimated that Pilchuck sees 28,000 visitors each year, due to an easy access to the trails and panoramic views of the Cascade Range and the Puget Sound from the top.

More than 20 years after the mountain was first climbed; US Forest Service constructed a trail leading to the summit in 1918. After that the popularity of Mount Pilchuck only grew and in 1956 even a small ski resort had been opened and had operated till 1979.


Climbing Mount Pilchuck is relatively a short 4,3 km (2,7 mi) hike, rewarding the visitors with a 360 degree view of Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and the Olympics from its shelter lookout. On the other hand, it is important to stay on the right track, as it is quite easy to get lost on the mountain, especially on winter time. As the result of lack of directions, there have been some deaths on the mountain in recent years and rescue missions are a reoccurring event.

Once you enter the Pilchuck State Park, it is not a particularly hazardous trail early on, but depending on the season, you could be dealing with rocky, snowy and wet conditions on the latter part of the trip. It is important to know that once you reach a scree slope at the one-mile mark, you should not attempt to scramble upward, simply because it is easy to wander of the right track. Instead, it is better to look for an orange marker that guide you left through the boulder field and lead you back to the defined trail. After another half mile, when you depart the forest and reach a clearing, you should be able to see the summit. Once you push a little bit further you will end up at the cone of the summit. You will pass a brown “Parking Area” sign and as you continue on you will eventually reach the top of the mountain and its sublime restored fire lookout. 


As the state of Washington is rich for outdoor activities there is no surprise there are many options for some good treks around Mount Pilchuck as well.

First of all, there is the Granite Falls Trail. It is a 1,1 km (0,7 mi) moderately trafficked out and back trail that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels.

Another example of a pleasant day out is the Heather Lake Trail, which is a 7 km (4,3 mi) heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Granite Falls. It features a lake and is rated as moderate. Not only the trail is primarily used for hiking and walking, it is also a great trail for birding and snowshoeing.