OverviewLookout Mountain is a semi-popular low-elevation peak seen by thousands of people every day and having large prominence. The peak has only 2677' of overall elevation, yet has 2197' of prominence which makes it Washington's 110th-most prominent peak. In fact, Lookout Mountain has the third-lowest elevation for any of Washington's 144(+) peaks with over 2000' of prominence, behind only Mount Constitution and Larch Mountain.
Lookout Mountain is passed by at least hundreds of vehicles (mostly along Interstate 5) every day of the year, and seen by thousands of people in and near the adjacent city of Bellingham every day of the year. The lower northern slopes of the mountain have been officially protected and designated by Whatcom County as "Lookout Mountain Preserve", as a place that outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy forested surroundings, streams, waterfalls, and wildlife within a few miles of the most urban area within the county. Lookout Mountain Preserve has over four miles of hiking trails, but the protected area only extends uphill a maximum of two miles up along the major access road entering the area. Despite this, public access is still granted to the two summit areas of the mountain.
There are two summits of Lookout Mountain, separated by nearly two miles of roads. Officially, the north summit is listed as having 2677' elevation, while the south summit is listed as having 2676'... only one foot shorter than the north summit. The north summit, by virtue of being designated as the slightly higher point, has USGS Benchmark Disks on the largest (highest) summit boulder. However, it has been questioned and in some cases disputed that the south summit, despite its official designation as being one foot lower than the north summit, might actually be slightly taller. With no official USGS Benchmarks at the south summit, and because of the little difference in elevation between the two summits, it could be argued that the south summit falls within a certain "margin of error" that might make it the actual highest point of Lookout Mountain. As a result, it is highly recommended that any peakbaggers trying to claim a successful summit of Lookout Mountain should visit both summit areas.
The standard routes to the summits are all along gravel service roads and surrounded by lowland evergreen forests. In general, the summit routes have no outward views due to thick forest-cover. The north summit has partial views of Mount Baker and the San Juan Islands, while the south summit is completely surrounded by forest. Both summit areas have fenced-in communications towers, and any attempt to enter those fenced-in areas is strictly against the law, but the highest points are not within those fenced-in areas. There are some occasional and partially-obstructed eastward views along the summit road leading to/from the north summit, and those views include Mount Baker, Twin Sisters, Whacme Mountain, Stewart Mountain, and Lyman Hill.
Each summit area was once home to a fire lookout. The north summit was once the site of "Whatcom Peak Lookout", which was a 80' tall wooden fire tower built in 1930 but later destroyed by the Department of Natural Resources. The south summit was once the site of "Entwhistle Mountain Lookout", which was originally a 50' tall pole-platform fire tower built in 1929, then replaced with a 40' tall wooden fire tower in 1954, and finally destroyed by the Department of Natural Resources in 1968.
Getting ThereFROM BELLINGHAM, WA:
1) From I-5, take Exit 253 (Lakeway Drive exit).
NOTE: If heading south on I-5, take the exit and turn left (east) onto Lakeway Drive. If heading north on I-5, take the exit, turn right (south) onto King Street and drive a couple of blocks, and then turn left (east) at the stoplight for Lakeway Drive.
2) After ~2.7 miles driving east along Lakeway Drive, the road name changes to Cable Street.
3) After ~0.4 miles further along Lakeway Drive/Cable Street, turn right (south) on Austin Street.
4) After 0.4 miles, Austin Street changes into Lake Louise Road.
5) After 2.6 miles further, a yellow-colored gate is found on the right (south) side of the road marking the entrance to "Lookout Mountain Preserve".
NOTE: The entrance gate for Lookout Mountain is shortly prior to the entrance to the "Sudden Valley Gate 9" private residential community on the other side of Lake Louise Road.
FROM ALGER, WA:
1) From I-5, take Exit 240 (Alger exit) and head east.
2) After ~0.9 miles, encounter a road intersection with a stop sign. Drive straight across the street, and the road becomes Alger-Cain Lake Road.
NOTE: The road name soon becomes Cain Lake Road.
3) After 4.8 miles from the previously-mentioned road intersection, turn left onto Lake Whatcom Blvd.
4) After 2.9 miles along Lake Whatcom Blvd, turn left onto Lake Louise Road.
5) After 1.3 miles along Lake Louise Road, a yellow-colored gate is found on the left (south) side of the road marking the entrance to "Lookout Mountain Preserve".
NOTE: The entrance gate for Lookout Mountain is shortly after the entrance to the "Sudden Valley Gate 9" private residential community on the other side of Lake Louise Road.
There is a small automobile pullout/parking area across Lake Louise Road from the entrance gate. The pullout area only has enough room for one vehicle, possibly two. Vehicles are not allowed to park in front of the entrance gate, or in the open area next to the entrance gate that is a bus stop.
Standard Summit Routes
FROM THE ENTRANCE GATE:
1) Hike/bike south along the main service road for approximately four miles, until reaching a "Y" road intersection at ~2060' elevation.
2a) From the "Y" road intersection, hike/bike along the rightside (main) road to the north summit (2677'). The north summit is approximately 1.5 miles from the intersection.
2b) From the "Y" road intersection, hike/bike along the leftside road to the south summit. There is a gate near the road entrance, which may or may not be closed. The south summit is approximately 1.0 mile from the intersection.
-> ~13 miles roundtrip if visiting both summits.
-> ~11 miles roundtrip if only visiting north summit.
-> ~10 miles roundtrip if only visiting south summit.
Red TapeBeginning during 2011, parking areas and trailheads within and for this area require a Discover Pass to be in each vehicle during the visit. Failure to have a Discover Pass visible within a parked vehicle at these locations can result in a substantial fine. For more information regarding the Discover Pass, please visit the official website.
Non-motorized public access is currently allowed along the standard summit routes for Lookout Mountain. However, the entrance gate to Lookout Mountain Preserve, which is also the starting point for the mountain summit routes, currently has a sign stating that road access is under review. The sign recommends potential visitors to contact Clare Fogelsong at Bellingham Public Works at 360-676-6961 to check current access rules and regulations.
The summit approaches follow active gravel service roads. These roads are regularly traveled for official use. It is best recommended to attempt to summit Lookout Mountain during weekends and holidays, when official service vehicles and personnel are least likely to be active on the peak.