Even if you don’t count yourself as much of a hiker, consider taking time out the next weekend you’re free to traverse the tremendous heights of Mt. Pilchuck. The Mt. Pilchuck hike is something surreal and fantastic; it represents a foray into nature that most suburbanites rarely have the pleasure of undertaking. With the oncoming winter season now, more than ever, is the time to take on the strenuous and fulfilling challenge that Mt. Pilchuck offers.
The trail leads from a deceptively easy opening slope all the way up to a minor peak adorned with an archaic lookout tower. In between the two lie forest trails inundated with the sound of rushing rivers and breathtaking scenic points. Further along the path are a series of boulder fields, striking to the eye and delicious to overcome. Even further past these fields you’ll find yourself scaling an ever-narrower peak scattered with enormous rocks and hardy trees.
By the time you reach the lookout tower you will have a tremendous view of the surrounding scenery, ripe with other scalable mountains and hidden lakes. The lookout tower itself is reachable only by scrabbling up a series of boulders which represent a formidable challenge to doggy companions.
The lookout tower was originally constructed in 1921 for fire observation. Having undergone several renovations over the years, the lookout tower on Mt. Pilchuck is now a fine place to lunch in and be sheltered by if the weather turns sour. Many people carry with them hiking hammocks and gear in order to spend the night in the tower. The original trail was established in the early 1910s and has survived marvelously up until the current day.
The hike is 2.7 miles long, but it rapidly climbs over 2,300 feet to nestle at a 5,300 foot elevation. The trailhead starts you out at 3,000 feet, making the trek infinitely easier and more quickly rewarding. However, that’s not to say that the hike isn’t a difficult one. Mt. Pilchuck’s hike represents a serious challenge for newer hikers, and a pleasantly demanding one for more seasoned hikers. The hike can be considered in three geographic sections: the forest trails, the boulder fields, and the summit. Each is troublesome in its own right and all three are very dangerous when ice is present. Take the proper gear and the appropriate amount of nourishment with you during the right time of year, and you’ll be just fine.
Mt. Pilchuck is located on the Mt. Pilchuck Road which can be accessed by Mountain Loop Highway. Granite Falls is the nearest city, where you’ll need to tromp along Quarry Road to reach your destination. The last few miles of the road leading to the trailhead are roughly hewn and full of potholes, so take your more adventurous vehicle with you when you go. Because of its proximity to other popular hikes like Lake 22 and Heather Lake, Mt. Pilchuck is relatively popular despite its difficulty. Many people flock to undergo its rigorous climb, and most are comfortable with dog companions being off-leash.
Should You Do It?
Yes. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. The 360 degree panoramic view at the top is enough to warrant the climb by itself, but the whole journey is really what makes it worthwhile. Refresh your urbanite system with the delights and difficulties of the outdoors with Mt. Pilchuck’s vigorous trail. You won’t soon forget your journey up its spiraling and magnificent heights.