57 – Lookout Mountain – Methow

With near airplane-like views of the giant valley below, it was a bumpy drive as the gravel road hugged almost too closely to the edge of each corner as the car climbed steeply up Lookout Mountain. Finally landing us at a parking lot near the trailhead, we were greated by fields of wildflowers the moment we got out of the car, and I knew right away that this would be a spectacular hike.

Wildflowers . . . at the trailhead

Even though the views would increase significantly as we continued along the trail to the very top of Lookout Mountain, because we had already driven so high just to reach that trailhead, right off the bat, we saw snow capped mountains.

Great mountain views from the trailhead too . . .

But forget about the great views for just a moment – there were wildflowers. All along, on both sides of the trail, lots of wildflowers, everywhere. Indian paint brush, calipso orchids, the yellow flowered arrow leaf balsam roots, glacier lilys, shooting stars, lupinss, and many more. Sometimes we couldn’t identify them, so out came the wildflower identification book. If we couldn’t find them in the book right away, we took a photo so we could look them up later.

Wildflower identification . . . along the trail

A beautiful clump of shooting stars right along the trail.

Shooting stars . . . along the trail

The trail was steep, I’d call it a steady grunt, and kept us very close to the edge as it continued around the mountain, and after awhile, we started running into patches of snow. In some places, the snow was ankle deep, in others thigh high, but it was patchy and nothing we couldn’t manage to get through.

Along the trail . . .

Sometimes when I took a step, chunks of snow broke off from the edge of a drift. Watching those snowballs tumble ten or so feet over the edge of the mountain before they smashed against the trunk of a tree felt just a little frightening, but Kent led the way and did an excellent job of plowing a track through the deepest drifts to make my going much easier. (Thank you, thank you, Darling!)

(pic by Kent) . . . snow along the trail

A wonderful reward along a steep trail that starts at a relatively high elevation is that before you know it, you are near the top. As if to offer encouragement, in no time the fire lookout tower came into view.

First sight of fire lookout . . . Lookout Mountain

And we continued our climb.

At the fire lookout . . .

We climbed the steps of the fire lookout tower, sat and had our lunch and tried our best to absorb the incredible view. The view, so vast, was definitely a “WOW”. Go here – http://youtu.be/CxZzXm5DM00 – to see my video showing the 360 degree views from the top of Lookout Mountain.

At the fire lookout . . . Lookout Mountain

For more information on hiking to Lookout Mountain – Methow, go here – http://experiencewilderness.org/hikes/lookout-mountain-a-classic-methow-valley-fall-hike. Washington Trails Association trip reports for this hike can be found here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lookout-mountain-lookout-okanogan. The gravel road leading to this trailhead did not seem as bad to me as some of the older trip reports stated. Sure, it’s a narrow, potholed, rutted, washboarded road without any guard rails that curves steeply up and around the side of a mountain, but even driving my old (did I say OLD!) Volvo wagon, as long I took it easy and went slow, we made it up without any problems.

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The hike back down went much faster than the climb up, and once again we were amazed at the number of wildflowers. We took the time to walk through the fields of wildflowers on the hill just behind the parking area in order to enjoy them even more. Early spring is the perfect time to do this hike.

In the field of wildflowers . . . arrow leaf balsam root

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