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Mount Pugh

North Cascades


North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
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11.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 5300 ft.
Highest Point: 7201 ft.


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Mount Pugh -- also known by its native name "Da Klagwats" -- has one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the North Cascades, offering a vista that includes Glacier and Sloan Peak, Mounts Baker, Shuksan, and Rainier, the Olympics, Monte Cristo, Three Fingers, and White Chuck. The first fire lookout here was established in 1916; a lowly tent perched on the peak until a cabin with a cupola was built in 1922. This was hit by lightning in 1927 and a second lookout was built, but it was subsequently destroyed in 1965 and never rebuilt. Remains of these structures can still be seen on the mountain, when you can tear yourself away from the view.

But you'll have to earn the views on this hike. Even for conditioned hikers this is a physically demanding hike with almost 5,300 feet of elevation gain in a little over five miles. A scramble section with some exposed areas can be treacherous in snow or adverse weather conditions and intimidating to an unseasoned hiker. If you can safely navigate this trail though, the rewards are many.

From the trailhead enjoy a pleasant hike through deep forest with several stream crossings. You'll gain a modest 1,300 feet to reach three and a half acre Lake Metan at 1.5 miles. Immediately you will see a "T" in the trail when reaching the lake. The trail to the right leads to several primitive camping opportunities while the trail to the left is the main trail. If you look up from the "T" you will see your destination high above your head. Lake Metan is the final water source on the trail, so be sure to refill here; you'll need it.

From Lake Metan the grade steepens. Continue from the lake under the forest canopy as the trail switchbacks up the mountainside at a calf burning grade, eventually emerging at a boulder field in the basin below Stujack Pass, elevation 4,900 feet. This is a good spot for a break. Enjoy the view of Stujack Pass and listen for pikas squeaking in the boulder field.

From the boulder field, continue to Stujack Pass, hiking on talus slopes and through wildflower meadows stocked with Indian paintbrush, aster, yellow monkey flower, lupine, and many more. During your hike in the basin the views open up to Sloan Peak and Three Fingers, and the Sauk River Valley below. Views improve all the way to the summit and sometimes mountain goats can be seen. Beware that the trail is starting to slough off at places here, so avoid taking shortcuts, which can worsen the erosion problem.

From the saddle of Stujack Pass, elevation 5,750 feet, enjoy outstanding views. Many hikers will choose to end their hike here -- it's a good stopping point for hikers with pets or people with concerns about heights.

If you choose to proceed, leave Stujack Pass and enter Glacier Peak Wilderness, indicated by a weathered sign. From here, the trail turns into a scramble route. Continue around the northeast side of the mountain on a path blasted out of cliffs and on heather slopes. Eventually you will reach the remains of a tram that was used to supply the fire lookout. From this point the trail is exposed and you will continue along a razorback ridge with a permanent snowfield. The White Chuck River Valley spread out below you on your left and the Sauk River Valley on your right. Continue along the knife edge and arrive at a cleft above the glacial trough. Use your hands to continue scrambling, passing an iron ring protruding out of the rock. Sometimes there will be cairns in this section showing the way. This part of the hike is considered a non-technical scramble, but in times of snow or adverse weather conditions it is best left to those with mountaineering experience. If you can negotiate this, the rest of the way is steep but easy to follow.

When you finally reach the summit, relax and savor your well-earned achievement. Before you are glorious views in all directions, the most dramatic being Glacier Peak to the east of you. Rest among shards of granite and the remains of the former lookout enjoying one of the best viewpoints in the Cascades.


Mount Pugh

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.1454, -121.4161 Open map in new window


North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway

Mount Pugh (#644)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails Sloan Peak No. 111

National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map No. 827 Glacier Peak Wilderness

Getting There

From I-5, take exit 208 drive 4 miles east on Hwy 530 to the small town of Arlington. Drive through Arlington, continuing east on SR 530 for another 28 miles to Darrington. At a four way intersection, stop and then turn right onto the Mountain Loop Highway and drive 12.5 miles on paved and then graveled road. A large, prominent sign on the left indicates the location of the Mount Pugh trailhead, and here you will make a left onto FR-2095, then continue 1.5 miles to the trailhead. Look for it on your right at a sharp turn in the road. Parking here is limited to a few turnouts and there are no facilities.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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Mount Pugh

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