Winchester Mtn.

#12 VISITED: 09.24.16

Mt. Baker / Snoqualmie Nat. Forest

Winchester Mtn.




Mt. Baker / Snoqualmie Nat. Forest

Built » 1935

Elevation » 6521 Ft

Hike » 3.4 Miles Round Trip

Elevation Gain » 1300 Ft

Winchester Mountain Lookout is located within the Mount Baker Wilderness Area overlooking the north fork of the Nooksack River. It commands panoramic views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, and the Picket Range to the south, and Mount Larrabee, both Border Peaks, and Tomyhoi Peak to the north. With only 1300 feet of elevation gain in 1.7 miles, Winchester Mountain offers some of the greatest rewards with the least amount of effort in the North Cascades.

The Winchester Mountain lookout was constructed in 1935 on an old lookout site associated with late 19th century gold mining. The mountain supposedly gets it’s name from an incident in which Jack Post, an important figure in the opening of the Mount Baker Gold Mining District, left his station and his rifle while on fire watch duty overlooking mining operations. When he returned, the rifle had disappeared, and could not be found until the next year when it mysteriously reappeared.

The lookout was in use by the Forest Service until 1966, when it was abandoned. By 1981, vandalism and exposure to the elements had caused it to fall into a serious state of disrepair. It was adopted by the Mount Baker Hiking Club in 1982 and carefully restored with the support of the Mount Baker Ranger District. Today the lookout continues to be maintained by the group, and is open to the public.

My Hike » 09.24.16

Field Notes

This is a hike for which you will definitely need a high clearance vehicle. The entirety of the Forest Road leading to the trailhead is in pretty rough shape, but the last 2.5 miles are straight up treacherous.

Winchester Lookout is available for overnight stays on a first-come, first-served basis. There are also campsites available at Twin Lakes, and backcountry camping is allowed on the summit.

Snow remains on the mountain late into the summer, so be sure to check recent trip reports before heading out. To avoid snow, and to catch the beautiful fall colors, I recommend visiting in September.


From Glacier, head east on Mt. Baker Highway/WA-542 E for 13 miles. Immediately after the Department of Transportation’s Shuksan maintenance facility, turn left onto (unpaved) Twin Lakes Road/NF-3065. Follow this narrow, bumpy road for 4.5 miles to the Yellow Aster Butte trailhead. This is the point at which it becomes necessary to have a high clearance vehicle. If you don’t have one, you can park here and walk the remaining 2.5 miles to Twin Lakes and the Winchester Mountain trailhead.