First Butte is 5491 foot peak 10 miles north by northeast of the town of Winthrop. The east and south sides of First Butte are hemmed in by Bronas Creek and Boulder Creek while the western flanks terminate at the Chewuch River. To the north a high connecting ridge has multiple points above 5000 feet and connects First Butte to South Twentymile Peak.
On the summit stands one of the last remaining fire lookouts which have dwindled from nearly 700 in Washington State down to under 100. This lookout, which was built in 1938, was continuously used to watch for forest fires every summer for the next 59 years. The structure is listed on the National Historic Register and is reserved for use during emergencies. It is not open to the public. The balcony is locked at the top of the stairs. Nearby is an old cabin which was likely used as living quarters, in the early years, by folks working in the lookout.
According to the maps, there are no main trails on First Butte but interestingly the USFS claims that there is a 3.5 mile trail to the summit. The following quote from (fs.usda.gov) is the only information they provide, " The trail begins at Forest Service Road 3700-900 and ends at First Butte Lookout." Can you find the trail on road 3700-900? This supposed trail remains a mystery but thankfully the forest service roads allow full access the summit.
Driving Directions / ApproachThere are two ways to drive to the summit of First Butte. The first way is from by the Bromas Creek drainage but this road was washed out in April 2009 and was still not repaired at the last check in October 2011. Eventually this road will be repaired. Until then, fortunately there is alternative route which makes use of the Leroy Creek drainage. On some older maps the road above Leroy Creek does not appear to connect with roads east of the pass, but it does go through.
Methow Valley Ranger District: 509-996-4000
From downtown Winthrop, head north on Bluff Street which turns into East Chewuch Road. Continue for 6.4 miles to a fork. At the fork, bear right onto Boulder Creek Road (National Forest Road 37) and continue 1.3 miles to another fork. Keep to the right on Boulder Creek Road (National Forest Road 37) and continue for 8.4 miles to a junction with National Forest Road 3700-825. Turn left and and follow 3700-825 for 2.2 miles to the summit, keeping to the right at the next junction.
From downtown Winthrop, head north on Bluff Street which turns into East Chewuch Road. Continue for 6.4 miles to a fork. At the fork, bear right onto Boulder Creek Road (National Forest Road 37) and continue 1.3 miles to another fork. Turn left onto East Chewuch Road (National Forest Road 5010) and continue for another 2.8 miles.
Turn right onto National Forest Road 5010-100 and continue for 9.2 miles going up into the Leroy Creek drainage and over the pass to a junction with National Forest Road 3700-800. Take a sharp right onto 3700-800 and drive south one mile to a junction with National Forest Road 3700-825. Turn right onto 3700-825 and follow it to 2.2 miles to the summit, keeping to the right at the next junction.
External LinksEric Willhite's informational page
2011 trip report by Wildernessed