Cascade Lookout

It rained much of Friday and the mountain weather was forecast to be more of the same for most of Saturday. I wanted to get in a nice long hike but couldn't come up with something different. At 9:30 Friday evening I read a trip report by Beave on Cascade Lookout. He did it by bike but at 16 miles and 3000' via a gated road to a seldom visited lookout it was just what I was looking for. I printed a map and loaded waypoints into my GPS and went to bed with a plan for Saturday. I left home under dark clouds and drove to North Bend. From there I headed onto the NF Snoqualmie River Road. The gated road I needed is 5.7 miles beyond the Spur 10 intersection and .20 miles after a narrow bridge not over the Snoqualmie River.

I headed out in light rain on the nearly level logging road. At the four way intersection I took the right hand road and began to climb. This section of road was more freshly graveled. It would be great for biking but it's a little hard for walking. Only a mile or so of the route was like this. The rest of the road was fine but less graveled and good for both hiking and biking. Using Beave's description I had no trouble selecting the route on a map. With map and GPS the intersections were mostly obvious. Some main roads have been reclaimed by the forest and are hard to see at all. Some new roads have been built.

I switchbacked left at one intersection and followed it up to an area of active logging. There were a few pieces of heavy equipment but no people. A little beyond this the road got down to business. About 600' of gain came in one steep mile. By now I was in the clouds and visibility was mostly 100' or less. The route finally relented and went around the snout of Point 3087. With a map one could chop off about half a mile each way with a short cross country leg. I rounded Point 3087 and the road dropped about 100' before climbing to meet the Deep Creek Road. That road appears to be a better route but Beave mentioned he heard it was closed by a big washout.

I continued to slog uphill in a light rain as the route makes a long arcing left hand turn. After 7 miles I reached a Y with an uphill right road and a flat one to the left. I saw a road turning off left on the map near this point and so I went right. The road did keep going uphill but soon was going north not west. Realizing my error I dropped back to the Y. My detour took only about 15 minutes and now I was on the correct road. At long last I saw a tall tower through the mist. It took me 3 hours including my detour. Beave confirmed in his report that the stairs were in decent shape. There are five flights of steps to the top. I would guess the lookout is about 50' above the ground.

The wind was now blowing making the climb that much more interesting. My feet were soaked and I was very much looking forward to getting out of the weather. It was much warmer inside the lookout. The building is in fairly good condition. All the windows on the east wall are broken but covered by boards. All the north and south windows are intact. On the west side 3 out of 10 are boarded up. There is less graffiti carved or painted on the building than I would have expected. After checking on the internet I was very surprised to see that this lookout was not built until 1964. By the late 1960s most lookouts were being torn down. For a brief moment a partial view opened up to the north. Tolt Reservoir was directly below me. That explained those "No Admittance - Seattle Water Supply" signs on the trees when I detoured.

A few sucker holes of blue sky appeared and disappeared. The view was non existent though. I spent over an hour in the lookout. Now with dry socks on I headed down. About 30 feet from the lookout the rain began again. I did get a few photos of the tower without the white cloudy tinge. The road down was easy but long. The clouds had at least risen enough that I could see the bottom of the NF Valley. Not a soul was seen on the way up or down. This turned out to be quite an interesting day. I will be back on a sunny day to see just what views I missed. With the long distance there is a decent chance this lookout will not be damaged by vandalism. It was a cool wet day but not unpleasant for a long walk. Less than 24 hours later I would be sweating like crazy in 80 degree heat nearby on Kaleetan Peak.


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Trips - 2005