The Best Day Hike in America: Winchester Mountain Lookout

Mt. Baker Wilderness, Washington
washington dayhike

From the Winchester Mountain Lookout, see the Twin Lakes framed by 6,000-plus-foot peaks.

Best of the Best

Beauty—real, untrammeled, backcountry beauty—is right out your back door, no matter where you live. But in combing through the best of the best, one hike demonstrates that more than the rest. Because here on the path to Winchester Mountain, no matter where you look—up:glaciers! down: blueberries! left: tarns! right: orchids!—proves our theory that this 1.8 mile hike delivers the most skewed effort-to-reward ratio in the country.

From Twin Lakes, climb through meadows awash in late summer blueberries and fireweed to 5,900-foot High Pass. Follow the faint user trail .2 mile, climbing another 400 feet to a 1935 fire lookout, maintained by the Mt. Baker Hiking Club and open for overnight use on a first-come, first-serve basis. Swimming in 360-degree mountain majesty—Mt. Baker headlines the blades of the North Cascades—it's a perfect place to convert the dayhiker in your life to a backcountry junkie. And if he or she declines, it's OK. Toast to second chances with a small-batch Belgian and a pizza at the North Fork Brewery and Beer Shrine in Derring.

Distance 3.5 miles (out and back) Trailhead 48.952637, -121.635813 (high clearance vehicle required or begin at Yellow Aster 2.5 miles back) Drive time 1:45 from Bellingham Season July to October Contact