Did you know that there are 93 fire lookouts in Washington State that you can visit?
Originally Washington state boasted 750 fire lookouts that were built in the 1930s. They were originally built to detect wildfires, as the name implies, but their usefulness has been mostly eclipsed by technology today. Still, every year these fire lookouts draw in hikers from far and wide in search of the most epic views in Washington state.
The coolest part is that some fire lookouts in Washington are available for hikers to stay in overnight. Imagine waking up to this:
The important thing to remember is that these fire lookouts are an important part of our state’s history and deserve our respect and care. Always follow the signs posted at the fire lookouts, avoid causing any damage, and leave no trace.
You’ll also definitely want to research each hike before you set out in order to know what to expect, so be sure to follow our links to the trail guides.
Read on for five of the coolest fire lookouts in Washington state!
1. Winchester Fire Lookout, Mount Baker Wilderness Area
This is a 3.4-mile round-trip hike with 1300 feet of elevation gain. The toughest part is the road, which requires a high-clearance vehicle. Once you get to the lookout, however, you’ll be treated to some of the best views in all of Washington.See the Winchester Mountain trail guide here.
2. Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout, Mount Rainier National Park
This is a 5.6-mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 1200 feet. Getting to the trailhead is easy and the hike itself is moderate, so once you combine that with the stunning views it makes sense that this spot becomes very crowded. It is worth it though—it’s on everyone’s bucket list for a reason!See the trail guide here.
3. Park Butte Fire Lookout, Mount Baker
This is a 7.5-mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 2200 feet. This is one of the fire lookouts that you can stay in overnight! Keep in mind that it is first-come, first-serve, so be prepared to camp elsewhere if the lookout is already taken. Either way, make sure you leave an entry in the poetry register while you’re there.See the trail guide here.
4. Pilchuck Fire Lookout, North Cascades
This is a 5.4-mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 2300 feet. This trail has an intermediate level of difficulty with some rocky parts but is very popular with hikers. The lookout is another first-come, first-served option for those who’d like to spend the night. Note that it can be dangerous in the winter months if snow obscures the path.See the trail guide here.
5. Heybrook Fire Lookout, Central Cascades
This is a 2.6-mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 850 feet. This may be the best option for beginners, since the hike is fairly short and easy. The two-level fire lookout has a lower level for observing and an upper level that you can reserve for an overnight stay.See the trail guide here.
One last reminder before you head out on your hike: be sure to pack plenty of water, check out the trail guide and weather conditions, and brush up on hiking safety essentials and leave no trace principles. And have fun!