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Sourdough Mountain

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
View map below

Length

10.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 4870 ft.
Highest Point: 5985 ft.

Rating

3.90 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
A backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in North Cascades National Park. Permits must be picked up in person at one of the park's Wilderness Information Centers
 
 

The mountainous views that once inspired beatnik poets continue to inspire modern-day hikers who take on this strenuous yet rewarding challenge.

Sourdough Mountain was one of the first lookouts established by the U.S. Forest Service. Stimulated by the breathtaking scenery at the summit, beatnik poets Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen, who worked as lookouts during the 1950s, each found Sourdough Mountain to be their muse. The current lookout tower, built in 1933 and restored in 1998, is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register.

The trail to Sourdough’s summit wastes no time letting its true intention be known: to climb up and out of the towering conifers into open meadowlands with breathtaking views galore. In the first 2 miles alone, hikers will be faced with a climb of 3,000 vertical feet. The grueling switchbacks will seem endless, but rest assured they are not. The forest gradually thins, offering some motivating peekaboo views of what lies ahead.

At 4 miles, carefully cross rushing Sourdough Creek, the trail’s first water source, before continuing your ascent on more gently graded tread. Alternating through charming groves of sub-alpine forest and wide-open expanses of vibrant wildflowers, you will be so occupied taking in views of the glaciated peaks that line the horizon, you’ll scarcely remember how much effort you expended to reach this point.

One last push through a series of switchbacks brings you to the broad summit of Sourdough Mountain. Linger a while and be rejuvenated by the 360-degree views sprawling before you. Mount Prophet and Hozomeen Mountain dominate the northern skyline, while Jack Mountain rises to 9,000 feet in the east, the jagged Picket Range lines the horizon to the west, and to the south, Pyramid and Colonial Peaks jut high above the turquoise waters of Diablo Lake, nearly a vertical mile below.

 

Sourdough Mountain

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.7179, -121.1455 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20

North Cascades National Park

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails Diablo No. 48

Getting There

From Marblemount, drive SR 20 east for 20 miles. Turn left on Diablo Road and proceed 0.7 mile. Cross the Stetattle Creek bridge, bear right and reach the trailhead in 0.25 mile.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
A backcountry permit is required to camp overnight in North Cascades National Park. Permits must be picked up in person at one of the park's Wilderness Information Centers
 

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Sourdough Mountain

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