Hidden Lake Lookout: Hike to a cabin in the clouds

Hidden Lake Lookout: Hike to a cabin in the clouds

It’s one of the most stunning views in all of Washington: Hidden Lake Lookout.

The retired fire observation station was built in 1931 and has spent the last thirty years or so as a destination for intrepid hikers and nature lovers.
 
From its perch atop a pile of rocks at about 7,000 feet, on a clear day you can see the Boston, Sahale, Snowking, Glacier, Eldorado, Torment, and Forbidden North Cascade peaks. If the day is perfect, you can even spot Mount Rainier. Down below the cabin is Hidden Lake, with deep, dark blue waters.
 
You can stay at the cabin for the night, but it is only available on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s maintained by the group Friends of the Hidden Lake Lookout and they have envelopes available for donations.
 
How difficult is it?
 
Unlike the waterfall hikes I wrote about last week, this one is for experienced hikers only. It’s about 9 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 3,400 feet. The cabin is at 6,890 feet and Hidden Lake Peak is at 7,088 feet.
 
This hike should only be done on sunny, windless days when it hasn’t been raining or snowing for at least a month. You can always call the Mount Baker Ranger District at 360-856-5700 for details on the trail’s condition.
 
How do you get there?
 
Take I-5 to Exit 230 at Burlington. Then, go east on Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) for about 40 miles to Marblemount. After you go past Milepost 106, go straight onto Cascade River Road. You’ll then cross a bridge over the Skagit River and stay on the road for almost 10 miles. Next, turn left on Forest Road 1540. This will take you to the trailhead.

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