Alpine Lookout

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 10 miles round trip

Perched on a 6,237-foot knob on the eastern end of the imposing Nason Ridge, Alpine Lookout offers stunning jaw-slacking views. From the historic fire lookout, stare straight down at sparkling Lake Wenatchee. Then turn your gaze outward to snowy-volcano Glacier Peak and hundreds of other snowcapped and craggy peaks flanking it. And if that isn’t enough to get your hiking boots in gear, the ridge leading up to the lookout is lined with dazzling wildflowers.

While much of the hike is pleasant going, the first 1.6 miles is quite steep. Start on the Round Mountain Trail and immediately begin climbing. After hiking through a few pocket meadows, reach the Nason Ridge Trail and turn left to begin walking along the high crest of Nason Ridge skirting the 5,700-foot summit of Round Mountain.

Traverse open meadows with splendid views west along the high ridge and south to the impressive Chiwaukums. Alternating between forest and meadow, the trail climbs and drops passing a handful of saddles and knolls. At 4.5 miles is the rocky Ninemile Saddle embraced by overhanging and balancing rocks.

Now climb once again, bearing right onto a spur trail to the Alpine Lookout. Built in 1936, it’s one of only a handful of lookouts still staffed in the Cascades. It's a logical spot for a lookout; the views are amazing from this outpost. Begin doing a 360 and start rattling off all of the names of the peaks in view—Glacier, Rainier, Stuart, Daniel, Sloan, Buck, and more

Watch For: Mountain goats on the summit

Note: Northwest Forest Pass required.

Getting There: From Seattle head east on SR 522 to US 2. Continue east to just beyond the Nason Creek Rest Area and turn left onto FR 6910. Avoiding spur roads continue on this dirt road for 4.5 miles. Then bear right reaching trailhead in 0.2 miles.

Craig Romano is the author and co-author of 12 Washington State hiking books including the newly released Day Hiking the San Juans and Gulf Islands.

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