Thorp Mountain

#16 VISITED: 09.09.18

Okanogan / Wenatchee Nat. Forest

Thorp Mountain

#16

VISITED

09.09.18

Okanogan / Wenatchee Nat. Forest

Built » 1930

Elevation » 5854 Ft

Hike » 4.4 Miles Round Trip

Elevation Gain » 1734 Ft

Thorp Mountain Lookout is located on the Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest roughly 20 miles northwest of Roslyn, WA. Perched high above Kachess Lake on Kachess Ridge, the lookout offers panoramic views of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams to the south, Jolly Mountain, Ingalls Peak, and Mount Stuart to the east, Mount Daniel and Mount Hinman to the north, and Summit Chief, Chimney Rock, and Lemah Mountain to the west.

Thorp Mountain is named after Fielding Mortimer Thorp, one of the earliest pioneers to settle in the Yakima Valley. The lookout was built in 1930 and staffed by the Forest Service into the early 2000’s. During the summers of 1945 and 1946, the lookout, a school teacher named Bea Buzzetti, gathered, identified, and dried 92 varieties of alpine plants and flowers found on Thorp Mountain. She later gave the collection to the Forest Service and the Thorp Mountain Herbarium can still be seen today at the Cle Elum Ranger Station.

The Thorp Mountain Lookout was placed on the National Historic Lookout Register in 2001. Today it is one of the last remaining gable-roofed L-4 cab lookouts in the Northwest.

Above: Thorp Mountain Lookout in 1934, four years after it was built.

My Hike » 09.09.18

Field Notes

The last two miles before you reach the trailhead (on Knox Creek Road) are super treacherous. The road is narrow and rocky, and there is one section with deep ruts in it. In other words, you definitely need a high clearance vehicle for this trip.

Thorp Mountain Lookout can be reached by two different trails. I chose to take the Knox Creek Trail (the easier of the two at 4.4 miles round trip and 1734 feet of elevation gain) but you can also take the Thorp Creek Trail (6.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2300 feet). If you choose to take the Thorp Creek Trail, be aware that there is no bridge over the creek, which you have to cross near the trailhead.

Snow often remains on parts of the mountain into late June or early July. The first time I attempted this hike I had to turn around before reaching the lookout because I lost the trail in the snow.

Directions

From Roslyn, take WA-903 N for 4.5 miles. Continue onto Salmon La Sac Road and follow it for another 6.9 miles. Just after the Cle Elum River Campground, take a left onto (unpaved) French Cabin Creek Road (NF-4308). Cross over the river and drive 4.9 miles to Knox Creek Road (NF-4308-120). This road is unsigned. Take a right onto Knox Creek Road and drive 2 miles to the Knox Creek Trailhead. There is room for several vehicles to park here.