Red Mountain Trail #651

Looking over at Pride Basin from the old lookout site, photo by Martha Rasmussen

The destination for Red Mountain Trail #651 is the old site of the Red Mountain Fire Lookout built in 1936 and ending at the rock outcropping.  To get to the old lookout site you start off from the North Fork Sauk Trail #649, hiking a short distance you will come to junction and sign for Red Mountain to the left.  The trail winds up the slope with a couple of long switchbacks through old growth forest giants.  When hiking keep an eye out for the flat overlook to your right, this is the site of the Red Mountain Fire Lookout looking out over the beautiful glaciers of Pride Basin.  
Looking southwest at Sloan Peak from the site, photo by Martha Rasmussen

When coming to an old Lookout site you wonder, why build a lookout at the location?  It was only at an elevation of 2,800 feet and didn't have a tower raising it up.

Mountain vistas and river below from the site, photo by Martha Rasmussen

It is quite a panoramic view, both looking up at the Mountains and below at Pride Basin with peeks of the North Fork Sauk River.  Once standing at this spot it is easy to see why a lookout stood here for many years safeguarding the forest having a view of many miles

Looking at Mt. Pugh from the site, photo by Martha Rasmussen

The trail continues beyond the lookout site and appears to end at a large rock outcropping, this is the climbing route to Red Mountain.  This involves a scramble over the rock outcropping and continuing on what will become unmarked and unmaintained trail and climbs at about a 45 degree angle without switchbacks.  The trail in rare occasions is marked by survey tape on the occasional tree.  Once reach elevation of 3,100 feet you will come to very steep loose rock.

Ascending past the rock outcropping, photo by Nels Rasmussen

Continuing further will involve scrambling and climbing skills and not a place for the novice.  After hiking for about 2 more miles you reach the first ridge and will be looking up towards the next SE ridge.  A vista will not open up of the surrounding mountains until you hike another 2 miles climbing steeper and reach a ledge looking down at 4.0 acre Ruby Lake at the basin of Red Mountain.  Beyond the lake is the climber's route for Red Mountain.

Type of trail: USFS
Length: .9 miles to the Lookout site
Elevation: 2,100 - 2,800 to lookout site, climbing route 5,800 - Ruby Lake, summit 6,975
Level of difficulty: More difficult with large blown down to scramble over.

Best Season: summer & fall

General Information:

Historical interest: destination to old fire lookout site

Wilderness Restrictions: Yes, enters the Glacier Peak Wilderness

Toilet: At trailhead

Northwest Trail Pass required

Bring plenty of drinking water

Getting There: From the Darrington Ranger Station,drive the Mountain Loop Highway approximately 17.0 miles to the Sloan Creek Road #49 and turn left. Follow the road for 6.6 miles to the North Fork Sauk Trail #649. The Red Mountain Trail begins 100 yards in from trailhead, on the left.

Further information:
Summit Post