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Distance: 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet (summer)
Summit Elevation: 5,460 feet
Access rating: Level 2
Park Butte is typically an easy summer hiking destination. In winter, the long approach on forest roads makes it too far a destination for skiers and snowshoers. But, due to a high snow line in 2010, the road was clear within a mile of the summer trailhead. This area is an extremely popular snow mobile destination and they are everywhere. To avoid this, visit in late spring when they are prohibited. Summer is good too I'm sure. The hike always seemed to be too easy to be worth the drive but the views are so spectacular, I wondered why I hadn't done it long ago. We lucked out being offered a ride for 2 miles up beyond treeline via snowmobile. Mount Baker is a striking sight and even more astounding is the visible snowmobile trail tracks up to the crater rim of Mount Baker. I had only heard rumors one could snowmobile to the rim but I always thought just that...one or two have done it, not hundreds every winter!
Drive the North Cascades Highway (20) east of Sedro Woolley 14.5 miles to the signed Baker Lake Road. Follow for 12.5 miles, then a left turn on FR 12 just after a bridge. Follow for 3 miles to a junction, turn right on FR 13 and follow 6 miles to the end.
Hike the 3.5 mile trail to the summit of Park Butte. In spring, one could follow the snowmobile route shown on the map. The snowmobile route is the easiest terrain to walk while the hiking trail route is faster but might have a stretch through some steep sections in the woods before hitting Morovitz Meadows.
The long winter/spring approach road
First view of the lookout on the far right knob
This is the upper portioin of the snowmobile route heading to Mt. Baker. We had to cut left over the ridge to start heading to Park Butte.
Panoramic of Mt. Baker from the ridge on the left side of the picture above.
Another view of the Black Buttes....looks like Pakistan!
Looking west to Twin Sisters Mountain
Views out the lookout window, only one side was open
Looking back to the lookout on ridge on right
East from Park Butte Lookout
Mount Baker and the Black Buttes from Park Butte
The Park Butte Lookout
Looking south to Loomis Peak from the lookout
The final ridgewalk to the lookout