Sauk Mountain is a popular, short and super scenic hike in Washington’s Cascade Mountains.
Known for epic views and beautiful fields of summer wildflowers, Tom and I tackled the trail earlier this month as a welcome home treat. We’d just returned from Alaska and wanted to extend our adventure.
Sauk Mountain is a 4 mile long ‘up and back’ style trail. It’s relatively easy, gaining 1200 ft to reach the peak at 5500 ft. While the trail looks steep from the base, it’s actually not too strenuous as the elevation gain occurs through a series of quite long switchbacks up through the meadow.
The best part? The trail has views the entire time as it winds its way up open hillside, so any rest stops can be treated as a scenic lookout while you catch your breath!
I think this trail is perfect when entertaining out-of-towners. On Sauk Mountain, hikers get a great taste of Washington’s beauty without the strenuous terrain that is usually characteristic of trails in the Cascades.
On this September day, however, I got the wildflowers minus the views – shortly into our hike a dense fog surrounded us.
The mist grew thicker and thicker the higher we climbed. By the time we reached the peak, it was total Picnic at Hanging Rock vibes!
In fact it was so foggy we nearly missed seeing marmots among the rocks! Nearly…
Then, like clockwork, the rain came. This made the granite rocks incredibly slippery, so we headed back down the mountain pretty shortly after reaching the summit.
On a clear day, hikers are rewarded with views of Skagit Valley, Sauk Lake, Mt Baker and the Cascade mountain range. If really lucky, vistas can stretch even as far as the San Juan Islands and the Olympics. We weren’t quite so lucky, but I’d happily try again another time.
Despite the discovery that my new waterproof hiking pants are not quite so waterproof, hiking in the rain was actually quite fun! Or funny, at least.
Am I a Washington local or what?
In all honesty, hiking Sauk Mountain was well worth it, even in the nasty weather. I’ll be back on a sunnier day to get the full experience.
Till we meet again, Sauk!
Field notes: we completed this hike in about two hours, so it’s an easy day hike once travel time is added. The road to the trail head after turning off State Route 20 is pretty sketchy: think unsealed and plenty of pot holes. Check out Washington Trails Association for the latest trail reports.
Have you hiked Sauk Mountain? What hikes would you recommend in Washington State?
Pin the graphic below to save this story for later!