Seattle, WA: Estes Butte Trail

Meander along a wildflower-lined trail, then grind up a wooded ridge to a former lookout site where views extend into the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
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Meander along a wildflower-lined trail, then grind up a wooded ridge to a former lookout site where views extend into the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

This 7.4-miler starts out gently, traveling northeast through forest—you'll follow an old road bed and trace Rock Creek for the first .8 mile. From here, the trail swings to the west and starts a steep switchback climb, passing Columbia lewisia, paintbrush, and buckwheat. Views of surrounding peaks pop in and out of view. At mile 3, the trail mellows slightly as it climbs a ridge covered with Douglas firs and lodgepole pines—pause to admire the wildflower show in the grassy, open forest. After 3.7 miles, the route crests a 5,397-foot summit, which was the former site of a fire lookout. Drop your daypack and enjoy panoramas of the Chiwawa and White River valleys to the northwest and Seven Fingered Jack to the north. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 6.0

Waypoints

EST001

Location: 47.9714088439941, -120.790840148926

Leave trailhead and follow the trail marked by an old signpost; hike into the forest, heading northeast. Note: The mileage listed on the trailhead signpost is for the old trail. The new trail climbs 3.7 miles to the former lookout site.

EST002

Location: 47.9726257324219, -120.78929901123

The trail emerges right along the shores of Rock Creek; you'll hike to the sounds of this rushing creek for almost a mile.

EST003

Location: 47.9742851257324, -120.788429260254

Stay straight @ 3-way junction; a side trail enters on the left. Ahead: Follow old, rocky road bed, and catch glimpses of Rock Creek as you hike northeast.

EST004

Location: 47.9804344177246, -120.780364990234

Turn left @ signed junction and leave old road bed. Trail switchbacks to the southwest; prepare for the steep climb ahead.

EST005

Location: 47.9806976318359, -120.785934448242

Cross a seasonal stream—this is the last place to refill water bottles. Continue climbing through forest; more switchbacks ahead.

EST006

Location: 47.9821548461914, -120.784843444824

Catch your breath on this open switchback speckled with Columbia lewisia, paintbrush, and buckwheat. In early summer, wild ginger blooms on the forest floor. Look to the southeast for views of Basalt Peak and Basalt Ridge. Steep switchback climb continues.

EST007

Location: 47.9853515625, -120.78678894043

Turn left at switchback and head west. Look for signs of the old trail, which was rebuilt (with switchbacks) to minimize erosion. Keep climbing.

EST008

Location: 47.9862365722656, -120.788032531738

Hit a switchback overlooking the Rock Creek valley below; striking views of Garland Peak are revealed to the east-southeast.

EST009

Location: 47.9867706298828, -120.790939331055

Hike north along Estes Butte's southern ridge. The climb mellows and winds through a mix of Douglas firs, lodgepole pines, and a few mountain hemlocks. Ahead, the trail passes a few viewpoints; don't forget to admire the wildflowers that thrive in the grassy, open forest. Scan pine trees for Clark's nutcrackers that feed on the seed-filled cones.

EST010

Location: 47.9928016662598, -120.790870666504

The forest opens for the last ¼-mile to the lookout site. Check out views to the east of the Entiat Mountains and views west into the Chiwawa Mountains and White Mountains.

EST011

Location: 47.9950103759766, -120.793014526367

The remnants of a fire lookout—four concrete footers, old cables, and bolts—mark this 5,397-foot summit on Estes Butte's ridge. Grab your camera and snap shots of the Chiwawa and White River valleys to the northwest. To the north, you'll find Carne Mountain, Seven Fingered Jack, and more. Next, turn around and retrace route to the trailhead.

Chiwawa Ridge

Location: 47.9949951171875, -120.792991638184

Views of the Chiwawa Ridge from the summit.