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Red Top Lookout

There are few mountaintops in Washington that are accessible by such a short and easy trail. Red Top is a great trail for kids and for adults wanting a half-day hike in the Teanaways.

A look at a map will show that there are several ways to access Red Top. This description begins from the picnic area at the end of FR 9702 and begin on Trail #1364.1. This trail is steep but super short, gaining 350 feet in less than a mile. It winds in and out of old growth, wildflowers and desert-like terrain. Kids (and you) will delight in actually climbing a mountain and will be encouraged along the way by the fire lookout perched on top. Near the lookout, the area is a bit exposed, so please watch children here.

The lookout has been restored and is still used during fire season. In mid-to-late summer, you may be allowed inside if the lookout keeper is there. Fortunately, the views are just as good from the ground. On a clear day, you will be able to see Mount Rainier, the Stuart Range and the Teanaway and Cle Elum valleys.

What's more, this area is dotted with agates and thunder eggs, and you may be lucky enough to find one! Hikers can also proceed about a mile north to some agate beds. But beware that the area is pretty picked over, and you may be happier just spending more time at the lookout where the views are better anyway.
Driving Directions:

From I-90, take exit 85 and go north on Hwy 97 north for 18 miles. Just past the Mineral Springs Campground go north on FR 9738. In 2.6 miles, go left on FR 9702. Drive 4.5 miles to the trailhead at the picnic area, elevation 5000 feet. NW Forest Pass required.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 31 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Red Top Lookout — Sep 27, 2013 — Nathaniel
Day hike
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Having previously attempted to get to this lookout a while ago while the road was closed- I saw that...
Having previously attempted to get to this lookout a while ago while the road was closed- I saw that it had since been fixed! So we headed out of the Seattle area at 10:00 and didn't start the hike until 1:00am due to the travel time/getting everyone together. The clear skies were awesome for some night shots and it was rather cold and windy so I hid in my sleeping bag for a bit. We ended up leaving at 4:00am due to how cold and windy it was- but that was ok as the skies had clouded up for the sunrise.

The road in was rather bumpy but I made it in my car that doesn't have much clearance- just take it slow and watch for dips/rocks/potholes and other cars of course! The trail itself isn't quite as long or concerning as I had anticipated, but it is definitely one that can be dangerous for kids to be on- I would recommend taking more mature kids who understand that cliffs are dangerous. Beyond that- fantastic scenery! The ground was frozen on the way out... so I am guessing that snow will be following soon.
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Red Top Lookout — Aug 17, 2013 — hiltonfam
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
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We do a lot of camping out in the Cle Elum area, so I thought this would be a perfect trail to try o...
We do a lot of camping out in the Cle Elum area, so I thought this would be a perfect trail to try out with our family. It took us awhile to find from our campground since we didn't know where the Mineral Springs Campground mentioned in the directions was located.

We started out with me with my one-year-old on my back, my husband, and our four-year-old and it looked good. We were expecting steep and it was, but not too bad. Then we got almost to the top and you are basically walking up a narrow dirt trail on the edge of a cliff. We were fine until the wind started blowing (a common occurrence in that area)and then I just couldn't do it. Having a 25lb person strapped to my back made me just off center enough to be nervous and we had quite a way to go on this portion. My four-year-old who is usually pretty fearless was terrified.

We turned around at that point and went back. It was kind of a bummer. I would also mention that on our way up, we passed a woman and her daughter (not sure age... probably 10 or so) coming down and the lady was muttering about how she wasn't sure this was a good hike for kids.

I would be very, very careful taking kids on this hike. I was scared and probably still would have been nervous without a person on my back. Not for little kids - I would say middle school age and up.

Very beautiful hike though and the views were awesome. The trail was well maintained.
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Red Top Lookout — Jun 23, 2013 — mrsaffitz
Day hike
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Short enough for 3-year olds, but definitely not safe enough for them at the look-out without consta...
Short enough for 3-year olds, but definitely not safe enough for them at the look-out without constant hand-holding (because terminus is near sheer cliffs). Seemed a lot shorter than the 2-miles listed...
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Red Top Lookout — Jun 08, 2013 — Eric Jain
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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FR 9702 was just about drivable with a low-clearance car. Reached the trailhead in the early afterno...
FR 9702 was just about drivable with a low-clearance car. Reached the trailhead in the early afternoon, and had a late lunch before walking up to the lookout.

The trail was in great condition, just short and steep. The lookout was locked, but the views from around the lookout were just as good.

Encountered only two other parties.

Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/eric.jain/RedTopLookoutJune2013
Tracklog: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/324934383
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Red Top Lookout — Jun 06, 2013 — Bob and Barb
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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After setting up camp at Mineral Springs CG, we drove to the Redtop TH. Wildflowers began in the par...
After setting up camp at Mineral Springs CG, we drove to the Redtop TH. Wildflowers began in the parking area. Larkspur, lupine, Jacob's Ladder, forget-me nots, yellow violets, western spring beauty, and ball-head waterleaf were some of the flowers seen. We went right at the junction with the trail to Red Top and the Agate beds making a counter-clockwise loop. The trail showed signs of recent work and was in excellent condition! Thank you! :)! We were the only ones on this loop, but there were 2 hikers who went to the agate beds. We spent almost 2 hours at the lookout area watching 2 male mountain bluebirds who appeared to be fighting over the territory! Their flight acrobatics were very fun to watch! From the top we saw a bear in the turn around area near the TH. We did not see it on our return to the TH.
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red top lookout daveh.jpg
Red Top Lookout. Photo by Dave H.
Location
Red Top (#1364.1)
Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest, Cle Elum Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 2.0 miles
Elevation Gain 350 ft
Highest Point 5360 ft
Features
Old growth
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Summits
User info
Good for kids
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Best Hikes with Children, Western Washington & Cascades (Joan Burton) - Mountaineers Books
Green Trails 209 Mt Stuart
Green Trails 210 Liberty

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