Bald Mountain from Cutthroat Lakes
Bald Mountain-East Peak located just south of the Mountain Loop Highway in the Mount Pilchuck Wildlife Refuse is special mountain in this region. Not to be confused with a mountain seven miles north with the same name, the summit scramble of Bald Mountain can be easily reached by trail. Bald Mountain is the perfect mountain for an late September and early October hikes and scrambles because the tarns below the summit known as Cutthroat Lakes change beautiful fall colors while producing a large amount of blueberries. Yours truely survived a couple hours up here easily eating tons of delicious blueberries, while being totally struck by the amazing red and yellow and are produced on this mountain in fall.
The summit block see from the southwest, September 19, 2013.
The mountain itself is moderately popular bit it is not populated as neighboring peaks like Dickerman and Pilchuck. From the summit on a clear day you can see Rainier, Shuksan, Three Fingers, Glacier Peak, Vesper Peak, Del Campo, the Monte Cristos and hundreds and hundreds more. You can also see downtown Seattle from a clear day here.
From the trailhead located right of FS 4032 you want to take the obvious trail (Cutthroat Lakes Trail) up the traverse along the side of a ridge and rises up the ridg to a gap. The ridge then decends from the gap almost the same elevation before rising again more steeply to Cutthroat Lakes. Once at Cutthroat Lakes you will have good view of the summit of Bald Mountain. There are a maze of bootpaths at these lakes so choose the most obvious one and aim for the summit of Bald Mountain. Once past the maze of bootpaths camping, areas and beautiful tarn lakes all the trails will merge into one. The one trail will then switchback what looks like it would away from the summit. The trail will meander eventually back to toward Bald Mountain. From there the trail with traverse to the south side of the mountain where great southerly views can be seen. From there take the trail/well established bootpath up the berry and heather field. Once you get close to the base of the scramble you want to look for an obvious bootpath on your right. Follow it closely as you traverse over rocks and ground to the final 100 foot summit scramble. Make the final scramble which does have one very small section of Class 3 to the very top where commanding views will drop your jaw. Total Distance and elevation gain is 8 miles and 2500 feet of elevation with all the ups and down.
It should be noted that you really only should be heading here if the forecast is calling for good weather. This area receives anywhere from 100-140 inches of rain so if the forecast is rainy it will be a mess here. Also avoid coming here on a hot day because this area can be very humid compared to the rest of the state. My recommendation is to come to this mountain on a sunny fall day which would be right around late September and early October. Prepare to take hundreds of photos!!!
VIA THE WALT BAILEY TRAILHEAD: From Granite Falls take the Mountain Loop Highway. Six miles past the Mount Pilchuck Trailhead Road make a right onto FS 4030 (Mallardy Rd). About 1.5 up the road make a right on FS 4032. Take the road all the way to the end which is 5.7 miles.
No forest pass needed at this trailhead.
There are actually camping platforms at Cutthroat Lake located just below Bald Mountain. There is lots of camping areas by the lakes. Be warned that because of the large amount of berries bushes this area tend to be visited a lot by bears so be aware.
External Links The best sight for trail conditions on Bald Mountain and many other mountains in th region