Suntop Lookout

#4 VISITED: 09.21.15

Mt. Baker / Snoqualmie Nat. Forest

Suntop Lookout




Mt. Baker / Snoqualmie Nat. Forest

Built » 1932 / 1933

Elevation » 5271 FT

Hike » 1 mile round trip

Elevation Gain » 600 Ft

Suntop Lookout is located on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, just north of Mount Rainier National Park. On a clear day the view is stunning; Mount Rainier looms 10 miles to the south, and the lookout provides panoramic views of Mount Stuart, Mount Baker, and the Olympic Mountains as well. A 3,000-foot drop leads down to the White River Valley on the east and Huckleberry Creek on the west.

The lookout was constructed sometime between 1932 and 1933 and is an example of the 1932 revision of the L-4 lookout plan. The L-4 Lookout House, as it was called, was a single story, 14’ x 14’ wood frame cabin designed to be hauled up a mountainside in sections by a train of mules and easily assembled by crews of one or two people.

During the Second World War, the lookout was staffed around the clock by volunteers as part of the US Army Aircraft Warning System, which kept an eye out for possible enemy aircraft. In the years after World War II, the lookout fell into disrepair. It was rescued and restored in the 1980s, entering the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Above: Suntop Lookout in 1940.

My Hike » 09.21.15

Field Notes

During the summer (and early fall) you can actually drive all the way to Suntop Lookout on Forest Service Road 7315. A half mile before the lookout, trail 1183 crosses the road and offers an alternative route if you’d rather hike. The trail is just steep enough that you feel like you’re getting some exercise, but just short enough that by the time you start to get tired, you’re at the top.

With a pair of binoculars, you can see two other lookouts from Suntop – Mt. Fremont Lookout to the south, and Kelly Butte Lookout to the north. If you’re really patient, you can also see the gondola at Crystal Mountain every 12 minutes when it reaches the top (Or so I was told. I was not patient enough to stare through a pair of binoculars for 12 minutes.)

The day I went to Suntop, there was a volunteer named Vern staying in the lookout overnight and doing some repairs on the building. I ended up talking to him for a while and he showed me a bunch of things he had carved out of wood, including these amazing tiny faces carved into sticks. As I wandered around taking pictures, he carved a wooden spoon for me. Now every time I make soup with that spoon, I think about my afternoon at Suntop Lookout.


From Enumclaw, head east on Highway 410. Just past mile marker 49, turn right onto unmarked FS-73. Drive 1.2 miles and take a left onto FS-7315. Continue for 5 miles and park in the gravel parking area located right before the access gate. The trailhead for trail 1183 will be on your left as you walk up the road toward the gate.