Sauk Mountain Hike
Sauk Mountain is a 3.8mi out and back hike that features impressive views over Mount Baker National Forest. From the top of the 5357ft mountain, you can look out over the Sauk and Skagit river valleys, the Cascades, the Olympics, and as far as the San Juan Islands on clear days. This route is also known for its wildflowers in the spring, which are plentiful. The southern exposure on this trail means it’s usually less snowy than others in the area during shoulder season, making it a good spring or fall pick.
The route is moderate with lots to look at as you go. Expect some steep switchbacks and areas affected by erosion. The road to the trailhead also has its challenges, and some vehicles may not be able to make it all the way there. Most users report having to stop about a third of a mile from the trailhead, so you may need to park along the side of the road and walk if you have a lower clearance vehicle.
The trailhead for Sauk Mountain is on Sauk Mountain Road.
|When to do|
Yes - On Leash
Older Children only
Out and back
Sauk Mountain Hike
Sauk Mountain Hike Description
Sauk Mountain is a rewarding hike with panoramic views that stretch as far as the San Juans on good days. The Cascade Mountains and the Olympics can be admired from this route, as can the Skagit River Valley and Sauk River Valley. This is a must-do hike for wildflower enthusiasts in the early and mid-summer when the mountain is covered in multicolored blooms.
The trail suffers from some erosion which can make parts of the route slick. To reduce erosion, never cut switchbacks. You’ll see the trails where previous hikers have, but this both damages the ecosystem around the trails and jeopardizes the stability of your hiking route.
The road to this trailhead is a bit difficult to pass closer to the trailhead. We recommend bringing a high-clearance vehicle if you can, although those who cannot often park along the road and walk the extra distance. Depending on road conditions, this usually isn’t much more than a third of a mile or so.
The route begins near the A-frame outhouse at the trailhead. You’ll begin by traversing across the foot of the mountain on a gradual, straightforward route. The switchbacks through the meadow start next, which are fairly steep and somewhat narrow in places. Poles can be helpful here.
On the switchbacks, take a breather if you need to admire the view. It gets better and better the further you go, making moments to catch your breath more enjoyable. On hot, sunny days, the trail can be quite warm. Make sure you bring enough water!
From the last switchback, you’ll cut across a saddle. There’s an intersecting trail that leads to Sauk Lake. We don’t recommend the side trip unless you’re prepared, as it loses a fair bit of elevation.
The rest of the trail to the top of the mountain tends to hold onto snow. Navigate carefully if the route is obscured, or come back another time if it seems impassable.
You’ll hike through the saddle to the lookout on Sauk. Marvel at how many mountains you can see up here- it’s more than we can keep track of! The summit can be busy in the summer, but it’s worth taking some time to appreciate the view.
When you’re ready, you’ll retrace your steps back down the mountain to the trailhead.
Hiking Route Highlights
The rugged Cascade Mountain Range is one of the stars of the show from the top of Sauk Mountain. The north end of the range can be seen in surprising clarity from this summit. The Picket Range, including Mount Terror, Inspiration Peak, and McMillan Spires are some of the easiest Cascade mountains to see from this vantage point.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Sauk Mountain a volcano?
No, Sauk Mountain is not a volcano.
Can you hike Sauk Mountain in the winter?
Sauk Mountain receives a generous amount of snow in the wintertime, so we don’t recommend attempting it past October or so. You might be able to make it most of the way up the trail, but the saddle and summit tend to be all snowfield by the time winter rolls around.
There is no pass or permit required for this hike.
Poles are very helpful on this route.
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