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Patterson Mountain

North Cascades


North Cascades -- Methow/Sawtooth
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4.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 1070 ft.
Highest Point: 3520 ft.


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This short hike to the top of Patterson Mountain provides great views across and along the Methow from Twisp to Mazama, while to the west are the Sawtooths.

The hike is mainly through the shrub steppe, with a few pockets of trees for shade. Most of the hike is on Department of Natural Resources (DNR) grazing land, hence cattle and cow pies are sometimes present, keep an eye out! The character of the hike changes with the seasons. In spring, wildflowers abound. While in summer, it is sun drenched and hot. In fall, the aspens along the way turn gold. In winter, the snowshoe route that approximates the Southern Loop Trail.

The trail takes off on the opposite side of the road. 0.3 miles from the trailhead is a gate, then a trail junction. The Northern Loop Trail, which branches to the left, goes through another gate, while the Southern Loop Trail to the right does not.

Northern Loop Trail: After going through the gate, there is another junction with the Patterson Lake Cabin Trail to the left. To your right is the Northern Loop trail. There are lots of side trails in this area, so stay on the main one, which gradually veers away from the fence line. The Northern Loop trail does a climbing traverse with some switchbacks toward the northern side of the mountain. About halfway up is a set of steps for a fence crossing. After that, the trail is mostly in trees, which provide desirable shade on the summer hike up. At 1.3 mile from the trail is a junction with the Southern Loop Trail, reached at 3200 feet of elevation.

Southern Loop Trail: After the junction, the trail gradually switchbacks up the western side of the mountain. There are a few pockets of aspens trees, but there is little shade on this side. About halfway up, at the southernmost part of the trail, a fenced water tank is visible on the other side of a small gulley. 1.3 miles from the trailhead is a junction with the Northern Loop.

At the upper junction of the loops, the trail continues to climb for another half mile to the northern top of Patterson Mountain. The summit is at 3520 feet, where there is a concrete cistern and large cairn. Continue another 0.2 miles, where the trail, now a jeep trail, drops slightly to another gate and climbs back to the southern top of Patterson Mountain at 3520 feet, a small rock spike to the east of the jeep trail. About 50 yards farther on the jeep trail and then about 50 yards east is the Patterson Mountain benchmark, just south of a 2 foot diameter boulder. This point is two miles from the trailhead.

WTA Pro Tip: An alternate extension continues steeply down the jeep trail on the southern side of the mountain, reaching a junction in a half mile. Turn right and follow the jeep trail, traversing about 1.2 miles, staying on the more major route at the junctions. About halfway along the traverse, the trail passes above one fenced water tank. Continue on the traverse to reach a second fenced water tank near the Southern Loop Trail (across the small gulley). Turn left on the Southern Loop to get back to the trailhead. This jeep trail extension provides slightly different views and a longer hike, but does not have much more.


Patterson Mountain

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 48.4621, -120.2441 Open map in new window


North Cascades -- Methow/Sawtooth

Washington State Department of Natural Resources

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails 83S: Sun Mt

Amazing Maps' RightMAP - West Methow Trails

Buy the Green Trails Mountain/Methow Valley No. 83S map

Getting There

From the 4-way stop in Winthrop, go east on Hwy 20 for 0.6 miles. Turn right on Twin Lakes Road and follow it for 3.1 miles. Turn right on Patterson Lake Road and follow it for 4.0 miles. The boat launch and trailhead parking are both on the left.

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Patterson Mountain

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