• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    8 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    3300 Feet

Dog Friendly

Once you've completed the scramble to the top, get 360 degree views of Washington. Hit the trail early if you're hoping to spend the night in the lookout. It's first come, first served.

Be careful when heading up this 4.5 mile trail since there can be snow coverage into the summer. When you start the trail, you'll get a little tree coverage as you start climbing up. Unfortunately, the shade starts to dissipate after about a mile, where you'll cross over Sibley Creek and enter the basin. As you climb, the view gets better - take time to check out the valley below and Mt. Baker. Once you've hiked for about 2.5 miles, the trail will ease its incline grade a bit and allow you to pass through the meadow and catch your breath.

After another mile of hiking, you'll start to get views of the surrounding peaks like Forbidden and Klawatti. Once you reach the saddle, you'll be able to see Hidden Lake below. There's no defined trail to the lake; it's about a 1/2 mile boulder scramble if you're looking to get down there. For the last bit of the hike from the saddle, you'll be scrambling up boulders for 0.5 miles to make it up to the lookout.

Staying here is first come, first served.

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Ice Axe
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Daypack
  • Camera
  • Light Layers
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Overall rating: 

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Hiked up to the lookout at the end of August and camped over-looking Hidden Lake for the night. First, the hike up was fun....about 3,000 ft elevation gain in 4.5 miles, but fun nonetheless. We went out early hoping to get to the lookout first. We hung out at the lookout for a couple of hours before making our way down towards the lake. We decided to set up camp on the ridge overlooking the lake and man am I glad we did! I woke up around 5:30am, peeked out of the tent and saw just a slight orange tint to the sky. Grabbed my camera and spent the next 2 hours taking some incredible pictures and video of the rising sun. My only regret is not staying longer. In hindsight, we should have prepared to stay up there for two nights and on the second day just explore around the lake and lookout. But this is definitely one of my favorite and most memorable hikes I've had.

3 months ago
3 months ago

A stunning hike, and a great way to make friends by sharing the lookout with some other fellow solo backpackers for a fun night of stories and laughs. Just beware, the road to the TH is rough, like, "this is the end, the end of my Honda!" being shouted several times, rough. In addition, the clouds and storms roll in fast here, what was a sunny calm Thursday evening quickly turned to a Friday morning snowstorm that left me with only 20 feet of visibility while trying to scramble down the peak with wind and ice. Yet, oh so worth it!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

My wife and I hiked this trail on a beautiful day in early September. We started late (1pm) so only made it to the saddle overlooking hidden lake and then turned around. It was totally worth it. The views got progressively more amazing the higher that we climbed. This hike crosses beautiful woodland then alpine meadows, then rocky tundra. We took our time climbing up as there were so many wildflowers and fungi to spot. There were Pika everywhere on the upper slopes - easy to hear but difficult to spot. Highly recommend this hike. Allow 3-4 hours up, 2 hours down.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This is one of the best moderate hikes in the North Cascades for panoramic views of peaks and glaciers. It was one of my personal favorites as a Wilderness ranger up there. As Christin said, be sure to get a wilderness permit in Marblemount if you want to camp anywhere below the lookout towards the lake. There's also dispersed camping spots on the Forest Service side if the permits are completely booked. The lookout is frequently full in the summer, but if you have winter backcountry skills, consider coming here off-season. I love the history of fire lookouts in the North Cascades, and this is definitely one to cross off your list!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Just did this hike a few weeks ago and stayed in the fire lookout. Just a quick note that the wilderness ranger told me that there are no reservations -- first come first served to stay the night. There are plenty of places to camp if you don't make it there first, but if you want to stay near the lake, you need to grab a (free) wilderness permit from the station in Marlblemount. I stayed here with 9 other strangers and we became fast friends during our alpine slumber party, but I have heard that some people don't really want to share the lookout -- just depends on the group. As Scott said, be sure to leave the lookout cleaner than you found it, and if you have any food or coffee that will keep, there is a dry box you can stash it in for future backpackers. Such an awesome way to give back as this spot is totally free to stay in -- I mean who isn't stoked to find some chocolate-laced trail mix after a big day hiking?! This was hands down my favorite thing that I did during my trip to the Northern Cascades, I already can't wait to come back next summer!

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

This adventure offers some of the best views in the North Cascades! If you stay in the lookout, be sure to leave it as you found it (or, even better, improve it if you can)!

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

That Fire Lookout looks amazing! I would love to check it out! Jeff

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Christin Healey Explorer

Explorer, adventure seeker, lover of life and all things creative.

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