Alpine Lookout is the name officially
given to a fire lookout located on Nason Ridge in the Central Cascade Mountains of Washington, but the name is also unofficially
given to the peak where the fire lookout is located. And with over 1150' of clean prominence, this definitely qualifies as a stand-alone peak along Nason Ridge. Alpine Lookout is a very popular hiking destination during Summer and Autumn months, as well as a possible snowshoeing destination during Winter and Spring months.
The Summit Ridge Of Alpine Lookout
Alpine Lookout is a very straightforward hiking destination, with a trail system leading to the summit. Approaches can be from either west or east of the peak, although most hikers approach the peak from the east as it has the least distance and elevation gain. With that said, the least amount of hiking distance to reach Alpine Lookout is 10 miles roundtrip via trail.
Mountain Goats At Summit
Although the mountaintop is long and open, the fire lookout is actually not located at the true summit. The true summit lies within 100 yards east of the fire lookout, and is currently represented with a metal pole sticking out from the highpoint. In-between the true summit and fire lookout is a large flat area comprised of flat rocks (as if they were tiles), as well as a small rock garden. A short walking distance east of the true summit is a small repeater station.
The True Summit Of Alpine Lookout
Alpine Lookout is an appropriate name. Not only is the fire lookout and summit in an alpine setting, the views from the summit are far-ranging to many alpine areas in the region. Due to its geographical (centrally located on Nason Ridge) and geological (open rocky summit) characteristics, the value of the peak as a fire lookout was realized many years ago. A fire lookout campsite was originally setup at the summit in 1920. Sixteen years later, an actual L-4 Cab fire lookout was built on the summit to replace the campsite. Then, in 1976, the L-4 Cab was replaced with a R-6 Flat Cab, which still stands today. Alpine Lookout is one of the few fire lookouts remaining in Washington that is still standing and regularly staffed every Summer by the U.S. Forest Service. Due to its long history and importance to the region, Alpine Lookout is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register.
THE MOST STANDARD APPROACH:
FROM STEVENS PASS, WA:
1) Drive east along Highway 2.
2) After 17.2 miles, and shortly after passing by the Nason Creek Rest Area, turn left at the next road. This road is not marked along Highway 2, but is Forest Road 6910. For the first mile, the road is shown on some maps as Butcher Creek Road.
3) After 4.4 miles along Forest Road 6910, encounter a "Y" intersection. Veer right to turn onto Forest Road 6910-170.
4) Drive 0.1 miles to the trailhead/parking area (~3950' elevation) for Round Mountain Trail #1529.
NOTE: Forest Road 6910 and Forest Road 6910-170 are each drivable by any street-legal vehicle.
5) Hike northwest up Round Mountain Trail #1529 for 1.6 miles, until its end/junction (~5150' elevation) with Nason Ridge Trail #1583.
6) Turn left (west) at the trail junction and hike Nason Ridge Trail #1583 for 3.3 miles, until its junction with Alpine Lookout Trail.
NOTE: Several minor highpoints will be passed en route to the Alpine Lookout Trail junction. For reference purposes, Ninemile Saddle (represented by a "9" sign on a tree along Nason Ridge Trail #1583) is passed only 0.3 miles from the Alpine Lookout Trail junction.
7) Turn right onto Alpine Lookout Trail, and follow for 0.3 miles to the summit (6237' elevation).
Northeast View From Summit
A Northwest Forest Pass (i.e. parking permit) is required for all vehicles parked at the Round Mountain Trailhead.
All hiking parties (including solo hikers) are required to sign-in at a free summit register located at the trailhead. This is important, because it helps the U.S. Forest Service determine which trails get the most use and might need the most focus.
Round Mountain Trail #1529 and Alpine Lookout Trail are for hiking, biking, and equestrian use only. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on those trails.
Backcountry camping is permitted within Wenatchee National Forest, but not at the fire lookout summit area. Please contact the Wenatchee National Forest Headquarters, to determine suitable camping locations near the area.
White Pine Campground is an officially established campground located near Highway 2, several miles west of the highway junction with Forest Road 6910.