Scott Paul - Park Butte
Last week Kim and I hiked bushwhacked through 41 miles
on Meadow Mountain
. This week we decided to do a little easier hike. Initially we were
set on Trappers Peak but at the last minute we changed that to Park Butte
Lookout. That was probably a good idea. I have been to the lookout three
times. The last time was twelve years ago. We had a reasonably late start
at 7:00 am. We were on the trail by 9:30. The parking lot was much
different than I remembered it. On my last visit the Scott Paul Trail
had only been open for a few years. I had been meaning to come back and
hike it some day. Today was that day.
The turnoff for the Scott Paul Trail is only some 50' from the start.
It heads off just before the bridge over the creek. We decided we were up
for a bit more than just the 7 miles up and back via the Park Butte Trail.
We would go up the Scott Paul and down Park Butte. The Scott Paul meets
the Park Butte after 5 1/2 miles at the 2 mile mark on the Park Butte.
The Scott Paul Trail is gently graded and well maintained. We climbed
slowly and came out of the forest and into a nice small meadow. From here
we had our first views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan. The view of Baker is
unlike anything I have seen. We returned to forest for awhile. The trail
breaks back out of the forest into high parkland. It now heads towards Railroad
Grade and Park Butte.
Numerous creeks are crossed. This time of year only a few still had
water. Those were easy to rock hop across. Earlier in the year those creeks
could be quite an impediment. Where there was water a surprising number
of flowers were still in bloom. Monkeyflower was especially abundant. Even
lupine was blooming. Each time we would leave a basin another one would
present itself. I lost count of all the basins we passed through.
After reaching the high point we began to descend. I was sure I had
read about a suspension bridge on the trail but we seemed to be getting
very close to the Railroad Grade and still no bridge. We dropped down into
the Railroad Grade moraine. It turned out to have two channels. After climbing
over one and into the other we saw the bridge ahead. It has no tall towers
and is not all that long. The creek underneath is flowing chocolate brown.
The bridge moves just enough to make it interesting.
Once acorss we traversed the side of the moraine and soon reached the
intesection with the other trail coming from the trailhead. From here it
is about 1 1/2 miles with 800' of gain to the lookout. Much trail work
has been done. Sections of old trail that were little more than a ditch
have been moved slightly to drier ground. We began to meet groups heading
down. We hoped the lookout would not be crammed with visitors.
The trail up Park Butte is not too steep. From Morovitz Meadow we had
continuous views up to Mt. Baker. This location is both very close and
yet far enough away to be able to take in the whole mountain. We continued
our liesurely climb with lots of photo stops. Eventually we reached the
lookout. It is maintained by the Skagit Alpine Club. In fact they have been
repainting it. Still some fresh paint smell. It was pleasantly warm and
the sky was mostly blue. This is definitely one of the premier places for
The guest registers are saved and we skimmed through volumes dating
back 30 years. I'm sure I have previous comments in there somewhere. The
mountains were nearly cloud free. Great views over to Shuksan, Hagan, and
Blum. Whiteshorse and Three Fingers are to the south. Glacier Peak is easy
to pick out. It's an unusual angle and I could not recognize many of the
We met Silence from nwhikers.net in the lookout. It's a small world
for local hikers. Several large groups left as we were arriving and we
had the lookout to ourselves for a short while. It was not crowded at all.
All to soon we had to head down. The entire route down is gentle. No knee
banging this day. We were soon back at the Scott Paul junction with just
two miles to go.
I knew that crossing Rocky Creek can be an adventure on a warm day when
the afternoon melt raises the water level. Since we came up the other trail
we had no idea what the crossing was like. That's some of the fun of a
loop. I remember a short rocky section with a wide shallow creek to reck
hop. That was twelve years ago. I knew that the 2003 floods had changed
things. Boy did it!
We reached rocks while still in the trees. The rock crossing went quite
a ways before we reached water. The creek must have been 20 times wider
during the flood. The creek itself was dark brown, fast flowing, and deeper
than I was expecting. I could see no tress across downstream. There was
a tree most of the way across just upstream with a smaller log going the
rest of the way. I went up to explore. Another hiker was at the stream and
mentioned how much higher the wate was than when he had crossed earlier.
I butt slid across the first log and gingerly stepped over the other.
The other hiker and Kim followed me. A little hairy but not too bad. Much
better than trying to ford when you can't see the bottom of the creek.
We were passed by a few groups heading down who mentioned "planks". It
seems there are wooden planks to cross on. I guess they were at or under
the water level and I could not see them when I looked downstream. That
is the disadvantage of not having come in that way.
Soon after crossing the creek we came to an equally wide rocky creek
bed. This is there a bridge used to be. The creek no longer flows here.
We found a cement bridge abutment and a number of pieces of the old bridge.
There is not much left. So the flooding creek was not only 20 times the size
of it's current bed but filled another bed just as large. Wow!
The rest of the descent went fast. We did find many ripe berries in
Schreiber's Meadow. The berries up high were blue but tart. Down low they
were very sweet. It was around 6:00 pm by the time we reached the trailhead.
It was a long and very enjoyable day. Depending which description
you believe, we hiked 11 1/2 to 12 miles with about 2900' of gain. A nice
but not overly strenuous day.
On the way home we checked out a recent recommendation. Just west of
where the Gandy - Baker Lake Road reaches Highway 20 is the Birdsview Brewing
Company. It's fairly new. The menu is still pretty basic but the burger was
excellent. They have more than half a dozen inhouses brews. The Witless and
Ditzy Blonde were very good. The dining area has no age limit and there is
a kid's menu as well. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
I will have photos up soon (I hope). In the meantime Kim has a
report with photos
posted at nwhikers.net.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Baker From Scott Paul
Lots Of Flowers
Just Below Moraine
More Monkey Flower
Creek & Flowers
Late Season Blooms
Even More Monkey
Photo Page 2
Trips - 2007