Park Butte Lookout

Park Butte Lookout is located on the south side of Mount Baker. Access is via Baker Lake Road. Here is the link with details. The hike in is about 3.5 miles. It usually opens in July, depends upon snow melt. You can spend the night in the Lookout, its a first come first serve sort of thing…if you plan to stay the night, be certain to bring a tent because it most likely be full!

I’ve spent 14 nights in or near the lookout, with other people and several times alone. It always magical, even in a storm.

Here are a few images from recent trips.

Over the years I have managed a few decent shots of the night sky from the lookout.

Views of Mount Baker and the Sisters are beyond spectacular for both sunrise and sunset.

Three visits to Park Butte Lookout

Three visits to Park Butte Lookout

In 2015 I had the good fortune to make three visits to Park Butte Lookout.  Its always good fortune when you visit such a place, I have spent more than 20 nights in, on or near the lookout. Stormy or clear, with others or alone, each visit unique.

The last several years I have passed up chances to do Park Butte in July, thinking I’d have plenty of opportunity in August, only to have my plans dashed by wildfires. That’s not to say that the local forest burned, but rather smoke from fires in Canada and Eastern Washington filled the valleys. Photographically the images of mountain landscapes are utterly ruined by the smoke.

So, here I sit, looking at these three trips in June, July and August, 2015.

And its helping, I am feeling better already!

June

There was a high alert for sun activity making the Northern Lights visible, so I made my way up to the lookout. The only stellar shots I got were before sunset.

July

I spent the night alone at the Lookout, and the sky was sublime. The Sisters, across the valley and the Middle Fork stretching towards the sun, it was quite a show.

August

This trip was a busy one! I brought 2 clients up to stay the night, but the Lookout was taken, so we camped in tents just below. The sunset was unbelievable.

Park Butte Lookout and Mount Baker Panorama

and the next morning was one of those magical moments that wouldn’t end. The snow-melt tarns are perfect for reflections and the low angle light sumptuous in its tone…

Hopefully the smoke clears soon and I’ll be back for the 2018 versions of the Lookout!

 

Panorama of Mount Baker and Park Butte Lookout

Sunset at Park Butte Lookout

Sunset at Park Butte Lookout

The Park Butte Lookout is located on the south side of Mount Baker, in the Mt. Baker, Snoqualmie National Fores, in the NW corner of Washington State. The lookout was “retired” from use as a fire lookout many years ago and was then adopted by the Skagit Alpine Club, who maintain the lookout for public use.

Mount Baker and the Park Butte Lookout

The Park Butte Lookout is a decommissioned fire lookout from decades past. Perched on a precipice along a ridge on the south side of Mount Baker the lookout commands a wide view of the North Cascades.

Now maintained by the Skagit Alpine Club the lookout is open to the public and if you wish, you can spend th night there.

Which is what I did a few days ago, I hiked up, hoping to get images of the night sky and Milky Way.

But, alas, it was not to be, after sunset the clouds rolled in.

Evening at Park Butte Lookout Mt Baker from Park Butte Lookout 2 Mt Baker from Park Butte Lookout Nooksack Valley from Park Butte Lookout

Mount Baker

Mount Baker (known as “White Sentinel” to Native Peoples) is the queen of the North Cascades range, towering over the NW corner of Washington State.

Mount Baker in the Morning

Mount Baker in the Morning


It takes some time to get to acquainted with such a beauty.
I have had several opportunities to get to know her and here are a few images.
Mount Baker from the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail

Mount Baker from the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail

Park Butte Lookout and Mount Baker

Park Butte Lookout and Mount Baker

Mount Baker and Coleman Glacier

Mount Baker and Coleman Glacier

Mount Baker in the Fall

Mount Baker in the Fall

Mount Baker and Stars

Mount Baker and Stars

Baker Lake Road

Baker Lake Road

Mount Baker from the Skyline Divide Trail

Mount Baker from the Skyline Divide Trail

View from inside

View from inside

Mount Baker and the Park Butte Lookout

Park Butte Lookout Under the Big Dipper

Park Butte Lookout Under the Big Dipper


The Park Butte Lookout is perched atop a ridge on the south side of Mount Baker.
The 4 mile trail switchbacks up the slopes, breaking out into Morovitz Meadows and traversing along the mountain to a last steep climb to the Lookout.
Park Butte Lookout

Park Butte Lookout


Open to the public to stay the night the Lookout provides some spectacular views.
View from inside

View from inside


On this particular night I waited for the new moon so the stars would be out and managed to arrive there just as the sun set.
Mount Baker. Te ridge on the right is Railroad Grade

Mount Baker. The ridge on the right is Railroad Grade

Lookout at Sunset

Lookout at Sunset


The twilight set the place aglow. Bellingham in the distance created almost too much light!
Twilight

Twilight

Big Dipper, Park Butte Lookout and Bellingham

Park Butte Lookout and Bellingham


Luck was with me, the Milky Way aligned with the summit, looking as if Mount Baker was spewing stars.
Mount Baker and the Milky Way

Mount Baker and the Milky Way

Mount Baker and the Milky Way

Mount Baker and the Milky Way


We left at midnight to hike back down and made it home at about 3am.
Lookout at night

Lookout at night

A very satisfying night!