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Green Mountain

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The meadows alone make the trek to the top of 6500-foot Green Mountain worth the sweat and energy expended. Acres upon acres of emerald slopes burst with a dazzling display of wildflowers. But it's hard to stay focused on Green Mountain's brilliant floral arrangements when its jaw-dropping scenic sideshow is dominated by the gargantuan snow cone of Glacier Peak. Green Mountain offers one of the finest views in the North Cascades, and did I fail to mention the historical fire lookout to boot?

The route to the summit is fairly straightforward and occasionally straight up. Beginning in forest interrupted by teaser views, work your way up a southern shoulder of the peak. After 1.5 miles or so, enter the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Subalpine forest punctuated by meadows and berry patches that warrant a return in September leads to a small ridge, after which you drop 100 feet to a pair of small ponds (elev. 5200 ft).

Not long afterward, lose the trees for good and enter a big, verdant (after all, this is "Green"Mountain) basin. Steeply traversing the basin at first, the trail then heads for a ridge crest above the emerald slopes. Be sure not to veer off the trail. The Forest Service is working hard trying to restore these loved-to-death meadows. Views expand exponentially as you march toward the summit. Be sure to take time to smell the myriad of flowers along the way. You may even spot a playful marmot or two.

At 4 well-deserved miles, Green's attractive 1933 fire lookout signals that you've reached the top. Wipe the sweat from your brow and gaze out over a sea of green forest capped by waves of white summits. The Suiattle River valley, a deep U-shaped gorge, spreads out below you. Trace the wild waterway from its icy origins on Glacier Peak all the way to its confluence with the Sauk River.

Driving Directions:

From Darrington travel north on State Route 530 for 7.5 miles, turning right immediately after the Sauk River bridge onto Forest Road 26 (Suiattle River Road). (From Rockport drive south on SR 530 for 11 miles to FR 26.) Follow FR 26 first on pavement, then on gravel for 19 miles, turning left onto FR 2680. Continue 6 miles to the trailhead, near the road end (elev. 3500 ft).

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 133 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Green Mountain — Jul 27, 2013 — Carol T.
Day hike
Issues: Road to trailhead inaccessible
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We had planned to hike to Green Mountain, but did not realize that the Suiattle River Road is closed...
We had planned to hike to Green Mountain, but did not realize that the Suiattle River Road is closed at milepost 12, about 8 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. I think the WTA should update the listing for Green Mountain to note this. We hiked to Huckleberry Mountain instead - See 7/27/2013 trip report.
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Old Green Mountain, Green Mountain — Sep 19, 2012 — HikerJim
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Fall foliage | Ripe berries
Issues: Overgrown | Bugs
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Gary joined me for my second trip up the old abandoned Green Mountain trail. It starts just before t...
Gary joined me for my second trip up the old abandoned Green Mountain trail. It starts just before the bridge over Downey Creek on the Suiattle River. My full report is several pages long. I will provide a more concise summary here. We drove the recently repaved first section of the Suiattle River Road north of Darrington plus the regraded gravel section to the gate at mile 12.5. Much easier driving than on my April visit.

We started biking up the closed road at 4:20 pm. 1.9 miles later I had a flat tire. Thirty minutes later we were on our way again. After 8.5 miles we reached the Downey Campgrounds just after the bridge and set up camp. The next morning we were moving at 8:30 am. Just across the bridge we found the trail heading uphill not the one going along the creek. After a switchback there is a large tree that fell along the trail. Find the left turn before the end of the log.

From there it is a navigators delight as the trail goes from faint to clear to lost in down trees. Gary did a great job as we were able to follow the real trail all the way. After 50 years with no maintenance it is amazing that this route still exists. In places the trail is a slight low point in the thick moss.

The last few hundred feet is in a clearcut and the trail is gone. The road is soon reached just a short ways below the current trailhead. Our route was just over 2 miles. The road up is six miles long in addition to the 6.5 miles from the gate. There were two big logs across the Green Mountain Trail on my 2009 visit. They have been removed. Clear sailing now. The upper slopes have become much brushier with little boot traffic for six years since the washout. It just needs brushing.

By 1:00 pm we reached the basin with two tarn/lakes. We spotted a cinnamon colored mother bear with two cubs. Camp was set up and a break ensued. At 4:30 pm we headed up the trail to the summit for dinner and sunset photos. It took us fifty minutes to hike the 1.1 miles. The foundation of the lookout failed before but it has been made stronger. Unfortunately, after much volunteer work it may be torn down. A significant hostorical loss in my opinion.

Green Mountain was once the crown jewel of the Glacier Peak Wilderness for allowing folks to reach a spectacular viewpoint without multiple days of hiking. It will be once again when the road is repaired. Absolutely fantastic view in all directions. The smoke from east side fires added a lot of color to the sunset. We stayed on top until just after sunset. Made it most of the way down before headlamps came out.

On the third day we hiked out. A little tougher to follow the old trail downhill but with the GPS track I recorded on the way up we did just fine. It took just 3 1/2 hours to come down from our campsite. Gary had not seen the end of the road in several decades so we rode the last two miles. The Sulphur Creek Campgrounds is now a Mayan ruin. Trees growing on the road and in the sites. Nothing that a crew can't clean up when the road is reopened. The ride back was mostly downhill and much faster. This was a real highlight trip for this year. For the trip we biked 21 miles with 1200' of gain and hiked 13.5 miles with 5400' of gain.

I have posted a two page report with 60 annotated photos on the first page and more on the second. It can be found on my website located at: http://www.hikingnorthwest.com. Go to "Trips - 2012" on the left margin. My 2009 trip is under "Trips - 2009".
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Green Mountain — Jul 07, 2012 — Hulk
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Clogged drainage | Overgrown | Mud/Rockslide | Mudholes | Washouts | Water on trail | Snow on trail | Bugs | Road to trailhead inaccessible
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No the road did not suddenly open. It's 14 miles to the trail head. The road is brushy, a few blow...
No the road did not suddenly open. It's 14 miles to the trail head. The road is brushy, a few blow downs to deal with, water running over the road in places. I chose to ride a bike to the trail head. It's a difficult ride. The return trip is not, good bicycle brakes required.
The trail is in sorry shape. Yes blow downs, but nothing big. Trail is brushy, but not as bad as expected considering how long it's not been accessible. The tread is in sorry shape, slumping in places, slid away entirely in other places.
The bugs. As bad as ever. Found it difficult to swap lens's on my camera with out dozens of mosquitoes, and horse fly's trying land in the camera.
I stopped about a miles short of the summit. Snow in the tarn basin just below the summit, and on the slope below the lookout. I was not equipped for travel on snowy slopes. My asthma was giving me fits anyway. That hill will still be there for later.
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Green Mountain — Jul 06, 2012 — Pika
Overnight
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Water on trail | Bugs | Road to trailhead inaccessible
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Imagine a developed and accessible wilderness that prevented motorized travel. Logging roads and ca...
Imagine a developed and accessible wilderness that prevented motorized travel. Logging roads and campgrounds overgrown with green vegetation, trailheads that can't be reached unless you hike, bike, or have a pack animal. Such a place exists close to Darrington known as the Suiattle River Road (or FS 26 for those forest service folks). Pristine road surfaces for a mountain bike or touring bike, without having to worry about the motorized scourge of the earth what a concept! Despite the motorized vehicle road closure at mile 11.5 everything is remarkably accessible if you have a bike.

I didn't really have a trail in mind starting out I had looked at Green Mountain, Huckleberry Mountain, and seeing what trails were accessible or inaccessible at the end of the road. I hopped on my bike, my osprey pack threw off my balance a bit, and headed down the road stopping to snack on trailing blackberries along the way. Striking views of old growth Douglas Fir and the raging Suiattle River dominated the road. I stopped in a meadow flowery meadow site of former forest service housing and flushed three large ruffed grouse and looked up at bright green alpine meadows and decided that Green Mountain would be the destination. 7 miles past the closure a sign indicated Green Mountain trail 6 miles and I followed the old logging road up the hill.

The ascent was a leg burner as I hefted my bike and backpack up the mountain. Sections of the road have washed out completely I found a large pond backing into the former road site inhabited by frogs, other sections you could drive a bus through without issue. I think I got off my mount four or five times to walk around the sketchier portions and windfalls.

Finally arriving at the trailhead I found the going much easier as the trail wound through the forest up to the emerald meadows I saw below. Indian paintbrush, glacier lilies, western anemone, lupine, mountain heliotrope, columbia tiger lilies, red columbine, are all blooming in abundance. The hike although overgrown in spots was easy to follow until the snow line. At this point I had started late in the day so I decided to set up camp knowing that camping on the ridge is prohibited. Bad move. As soon as I started cooking dinner swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes attacked me as fast as I applied the deet it seemed to wear off and I am covered in bites from head to toe. Maddened by the infernal buzzing, loss of blood, and the loss of feeling in my hands from clapping I decided to keep climbing to the lookout tower.

The lookout tower looked close though I had a large snowfield to negotiate to get to it. I broke out my ice axe and spikes and trudged up the hill I figured I could just sleep on the railing of the lookout and I did. All of the north cascades seemed within reach from the summit. Glacier Peak and Baker dominate the skyline along with a hundred other glaciated peaks making me jealous of the fire watchers who made their home here for the summer. The sun set with a fiery red color draping all the mountains in pink alpenglow. Waking up in the morning I was greeted by the whistles of marmots playing in the sun and rolling around in the snow.

I glissaded down the hill doing a mix of slalom turns and sliding on my butt until I reached what I suspected to be the trail and made my way down the mountain until I regained the tread. Biking from the trailhead down the hill was a bit overambitious as I shook and slid cruising around rocks and downed trees I'm amazed I didn't fall. I saw two people climbing up the hill as I descended but I still consider that to be solitude on an 8 mile hike. I biked another 4 miles or so up the road to look for future hikes which hopefully I will return to before the road reopens August 6th.

Overall the hike itself was gorgeous the scenery could not be beat. The effort expended to get to the trailhead (14 miles of biking) was taxing but well worth it. I really hope they don't reopen the road how cool is it that you have to bike to get anywhere? That means that everyone you meet even the campers at the first spot about 3 miles in has biked with all of their stuff and are dedicated to a true wilderness experience. I saw about 7 cars at the road closure late Saturday but for 15 miles of open road, abundant trailheads, and campgrounds that barely makes a dent in the wilderness.
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Green Mountain — Sep 08, 2011 — Norm
Overnight
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Overgrown | Bugs | Road to trailhead inaccessible
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A team effort got us to the lookout this trip. Luckily Arthur remembered to bring his long crosscut ...
A team effort got us to the lookout this trip. Luckily Arthur remembered to bring his long crosscut saw or the trip would have been over. Less than a mile up from the Suiattle River road #26 we encountered a huge, fallen tree blocking the Green Mountain road. Out came the saw after planning how to safely proceed. There were four of us so we were able to share in the sawing exercise and roll the log away in only an hour. Fortunately there were no other obstacles as we continued on to the trailhead. There we donned our packs after Arthur weighed them. Mine and Dave’s weighed the same, 32 lbs, Arthurs weighed 42 lbs and Adams was nearly 50 lbs as he carried the heaviest equipment in on his one-day trip.
 The trail, once out of the forest, is significantly overgrown on the south facing slope along the route. Some vegetation reached higher than our heads but there was still a visible dirt path to follow. The trail is more open on the east-side shoulder nearing Small Lake, across the open west slope and up the south ridge.
 We arrived at the lookout about 1440 and immediately set out all tools and hardware for the work needed. The bugs en route along the trail were bothersome but now they were unbearable since we were no longer in continuous motion. So we either layered-up clothing or sprayed it with repellant. Even the local marmots were irritated by the pesky mosquitoes and flies as displayed by their frequent scratching or head-covering. We worked on the busted railings, and also reinforced the railings on the north and west sides, all the while enjoying the spectacular views and taking advantage of photo opportunities when the marmots arrived and during the sunset. Wildflowers are now blooming at higher elevations but there is no water source above the lake. There are still snow patches not far below the lookout, so we melted snow for our water.
 Biking in from the locked gate is the quickest way to cover the 12 miles of road to the trailhead, going from 900’ at the gate to about 3500’. The lookout is closed and still awaiting completion of its restoration work. Plan on staying at the campsite near Small Lake with its summer-long running outlet, or higher on the west slope where there is an open campsite along the trail.
 No axe or traction devices needed in later summer, just protection from the relentless bugs.

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view from Green Mt by Edmondo Lalario.jpg
View from Green Mountain By Edmondo Lalario (2004)
Location
Green Mountain (#782)
North Cascades -- West Slope
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain 3100 ft
Highest Point 6500 ft
Features
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Summits
Ridges/passes
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Cascade Pass No. 80

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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