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Winchester Mountain

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- Mount Baker Area
View map below

Length

3.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1300 ft.
Highest Point: 6521 ft.

Rating

4.42 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 
 

The trail up to Winchester Mountain is less than two miles long and only 1300 feet of elevation gain, with access to a lookout at 6500 feet with outstanding 360 degree views. What’s the catch? The road.

Four wheel drive is helpful, but a high clearance vehicle is required. Without one, you can park on the shoulder just past the Yellow Aster Butte trailhead and add 2.5 miles each way of road walking. But even that requires caution; the road is only one lane wide.

From the parking lot at Twin Lakes, you can’t see the lookout atop Winchester Mountain, but you may be able to see the American flag waving from its adjacent flagpole. You can also see the trail moving generally right to left across the treeless southeast slope.

From the trailhead between the two lakes, begin climbing up a moderately steep trail lined with blueberries. It quickly breaks into the open, coming to a junction with the High Pass trail at a quarter mile. Continue straight, traversing into some tight switchbacks through fireweed and more blueberries. The views continue to improve as you climb.

At 0.9 mile is an unmarked junction. The main trail continues straight then switches back to traverse the slope directly above. To the left is the snow route, a rough vertical scramble to consider only if conditions make the slope above too dangerous to traverse, and if you are prepared for snow travel.

At 1.3 miles, crest over a pass to the western side and climb the remaining 400 feet to the lookout, elevation 6521 feet. The lookout, built in 1935, is now lovingly maintained by volunteers from the Mount Baker Hiking Club.

From the summit, the High Pass route on Mount Larrabee and both Border Peaks dominate the views to the north. The tops of numerous peaks are visible to the south and southeast, including Mount Shuksan and part of the Picket Range. Twin Lakes and the parking area are far below. To the southwest is Mount Baker, and to the northwest are Tomyhoi Lake and Tomyhoi Peak. The summit has plenty of room. Wander around taking photographs of the various sights, or just relax and enjoy the views before returning.

 

Winchester Mountain

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.9526, -121.6358 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- Mount Baker Area

Winchester Mountain (#685)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Baker Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Download a map to plan your hike

Buy the Green Trails Mt. Shuksan No. 14 map

Getting There

From I-5 exit 255, drive State Route 542 33 miles to the Glacier Public Service Center (GPSC) just past the town of Glacier. From the GPSC, continue east on SR 542 12.5 miles. Immediately beyond the Department of Transportation’s Shuksan maintenance facility, veer left onto Twin Lakes Road. The road is narrow, rocky, and potholed, but driveable. At 4.5 miles, pass the Yellow Aster Butte trailhead, and the last reliable shoulder parking.

Beyond here, four-wheel drive is helpful, but a high clearance vehicle is essential. The rugged one-lane road passes a few camps and a vault toilet at the first lake (6.7 miles) then ends between the Twin Lakes, 7.0 miles from the turnoff onto Twin Lakes Road.

There are four camp sites, a vault toilet, and parking for about twenty vehicles, with overflow parking for several more.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 

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Winchester Mountain

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