Trails for everyone, forever

Home Go Hiking Hiking Guide Purcell Lookout

Purcell Lookout

South Cascades


South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley
View map below


8.2 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 2600 ft.
Highest Point: 5442 ft.


3.00 out of 5

(5 votes) Log in to rate

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

Accessing this trail is an adventure in and of itself, since you begin with a walk down overgrown FR 3610, which may have several washouts that require scrambling or fording. After this first exciting mile, you'll see the sign for the trail, still intact, despite the road being in poor shape.

From the trailhead proper, climb gradually through forest for one and a half miles. You'll soon reach wildflower meadows and a more merciful grade as the trail continues to climb, but this time with switchbacks.

Three miles from the trailhead (about 3.6 from your car), arrive at a junction. A left takes you back to Highway 12, 8 miles from here. You want to take the right trail, and ascend the ridge among ever more wildflowers.

Reenter the forest for a short time, and then arrive at the site of the former lookout. There's no longer a structure here, but the views remain. All around you are craggy peaks and dramatic panoramas. Mounts Rainier, Adams, and St. Helens are the most evident, but keep an eye out for Mount Aix and the Goat Rocks, as well as the Tatoosh Range. You may even see Mount Hood if it's a clear enough day.


Purcell Lookout

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.5814, -121.8327 Open map in new window


South Cascades -- White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley

Purcell Lookout (#285)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: South Cascades (Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Randle No. 301 map

Getting There

Driving east on Highway 12, go through the tiny town of Randle. From milepost 120, continue another 0.9 miles, and turn left on Davis Creek Road. Continue another 1.1 miles to ROAD CLOSED signs and barriers, then make a left on unsigned FR 63. Continue 4.6 miles, and park at the waterfall on right. Be sure to leave room for other vehicles to park or pass. Walk up the road 150 yards to abandoned road 63-057 on your left.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

You can improve or add to this guidebook entry

Purcell Lookout

14 Trip Reports

Hiked here recently?

Submit a trip report!
Trip Reports