Mount Pilchuck State Park
In Mount Pilchuck State Park (6.9 mi. up FS Rd. 42, www.parks.wa.gov), the 5,324-foot Mt. Pilchuck offers a challenging day hike, with dramatic 360-degree views of the Cascades and Puget Sound from the summit.
Get to the trailhead by heading a mile east of Verlot Public Service Center (11 miles east of Granite Falls, 360/691-7791, June–Labor Day daily 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., plus Thurs.–Mon. 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. in the spring and fall, closed in winter) and turning onto Forest Road 42. Follow it seven miles uphill to the park entrance at an abandoned ski area.
Allow five hours for the six-mile round-trip hike, and be prepared for a 2,300-foot gain in elevation and some boulder hopping at the end; the hike is best in late summer.
Drinking water is scarce along the trail, so take plenty with you.
Mountain climbers practice their techniques on the rugged northeast side of Mt. Pilchuck; be sure to sign the climbers’ register at the Verlot Public Service Center before doing so.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition