Starting in a forested creek valley, climb through alpine forest, meadows, and rocks to expansive vistas at the Stiletto Lookout site. Your destination is visible from the trailhead, on the end of the ridge to the southeast.
From the Bridge Creek Trailhead at elevation 4540 feet, cross Highway 20 and go southbound through the forest on the wide Pacific Crest Trail. At 0.9 miles and 4370 feet, reach a marked junction and turn left onto the Stiletto Spur Trail. This narrower trail descends slightly and crosses State Creek on a bridge (partially damaged as of 2018), ford, or in late summer a rock hop. The trail tends to be brushier than the Pacific Crest Trail, with sections of shade-loving flowers in early summer as it heads south on the east slope of the Bridge Creek valley.
At 1.1 miles and elevation 4340 feet, is a junction with the Copper Pass Trail. Stay on the Stiletto Spur Trail (the right branch) and enjoy the solitude. The trail crosses Copper Creek at 1.4 miles, elevation 4260 feet. In spring and early summer, this is either a log walk or ford. In late summer, it is a rock hop. Note that the creek has shifted south by 100 yards, as compared to the depiction on maps prior to 2018.
The trail continues south, mainly in forest, crossing a few avalanche chutes with flowers, ferns, and brush. After passing an unmarked trail that goes up the hill, the Stilleto Spur Trail enters the North Cascades National Park. At 2.1 miles (elevation 4110 feet), reach the junction with the Stiletto Peak Trail. The low, south-facing junction sign is on the downhill side of the trail is not visible until right at the junction.
Note that as of 2018, the USGS topographic maps do not correctly depict the Stiletto Peak Trail location. The Green Trails map, 2014 Stehekin, WA No 82, has the correct depiction to 4.3 miles (elevation 6100 feet).
Turn onto the Stiletto Peak Trail and start the climb with a couple lazy switchbacks & brushy stream crossings (last water in summer). The trail alternates short switchbacks and longer traverses as it climbs through the forest. At 2.8 miles (elevation 4700 feet), is a good view down the Bridge Creek Valley that provides an excuse for a rest on this steep trail. After about 13 more switchbacks (at 3.7 miles, elevation 5490 feet) is a more expansive view to the west and southwest including McGregor Mountain standing guard over the north end of Lake Chelan. The steep climb continues and finally relents a bit as the trail enters the large meadow at 4.3 miles (elevation 6100 feet).
In early summer, this is the first of a series of flower gardens on a shallower climb. The meadows are also home to marmots which whistle alarms to the hiker intrusion. In mid-summer, the bugs in the forest can be tolerable, but once in the meadows, the mosquitos can be quite bothersome.
The flowers and grass of the meadows can obscure the trail through this area and cairns mark most of the route. For reference, here are a set of GPS points at significant locations:
- Trail enters first large meadow (48.4783, -120.6876)
- Trail turns north (48.4785, -120.6851)
- A large rock outcropping (48.4813, -120.6851)
- Reach ridge west of lookout site (48.4840, -120.6831)
The hike through the meadows and rocky areas has ever improving views. Once on the ridge west of the lookout site, the trail snakes its way east through rockslides & outcroppings before the last climb northeast up the open slope to the lookout site (5.2 miles, elevation 7223 feet).
The lookout was built in 1931 and removed in 1953. All that is left standing is the mounting post for the fire finder, now surrounded by a rock wall wind break. As expected for a lookout site, the views are incredible. Along the ridge to the east is Stiletto Peak, in all other directions are views ragged horizon created by the North Cascades, with Glacier Peak to the southwest. The view north includes the steep 2000-foot drop to Copper Creek. To the northwest is Highway 20 and the Bridge Creek Trailhead.
While the former lookout site has the best views and makes a good turn around point after soaking in all the views, the trail does continue to the east,. It stays near the ridgecrest while descending to a saddle at the base of Stiletto Peak, at 5.5 miles (elevation 7060 feet). The route up the peak is a climber's scramble to a high point at 7660 feet. From the saddle, the open rocky meadows to the southeast are easy roaming with multiple options for those versed in backcountry navigation.
Between Twisp Pass on the east and Stiletto Peak lookout site (Stiletto Vista) on the west is the North Cascades National Park Stiletto Cross-Country Zone with options for roaming and climbing.