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Pilot Ridge

North Cascades


North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
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11.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 5946 ft.


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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

A steep, infrequently maintained trail that is part of the White Pass-Pilot Ridge Loop. The beginning of this hike requires a ford of the Sauk River, which can be challenging or dangerous in the spring when the water runoff is high.

It's nearly 2 miles on the North Fork Sauk River trail to where hikers need to turn off to get to the Pilot Ridge trail. Once you cross the river, find the trail again and begin heading uphill.

It's a relentless 3 miles and 3000 feet of gain uphill to where the trail begins to traverse east/northeast along the namesake ridge. The trail stays on this ridge for 7 miles until, 10 miles from the trailhead, find a side trail to the east that climbs one mile to the 6,712-foot summit of Johnson Mountain.

Back on the main trail you'll arrive at a junction in another half mile. The left fork leads to the cliff-walled, 22-acre Upper Blue Lake at 5,500 feet that may remain frozen until mid-August. The right fork leads to three-acre Lower Blue Lake in 0.5 miles.

The right fork is the main trail, which ends at June Mountain at a junction with the Bald Eagle Trail. Follow Bald Eagle Trail east for 2.5 miles t


Pilot Ridge

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.0579, -121.2882 Open map in new window


North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway

Pilot Ridge (#652)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District

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Getting There

On the Mountain Loop Highway, drive 16 miles south of Darrington or 26.2 miles east of Verlot to Forest Road 49. Turn east and proceed 6.4 miles to the sign for the North Fork Sauk parking lot.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Pilot Ridge

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