Location: Mountain Loop Highway near Granite Falls
Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Roundtrip: 2.5 miles
High Point: 3,222 feet
Elevation gain: 850 feet
Green Trails Map: Sloan Peak, WA- No. 111
Note: Northwest Forest Pass required
Access: From Granite Falls follow the Mountain Loop Highway east for 31 miles to Barlow Pass and trailhead located on your left.
Good to know: Dog-friendly, kid-friendly, historic,
Are you interested in a nice little leg stretcher off of the Mountain Loop Highway sans the crowds? Check out Barlow Point, a little knob of a peak just above Barlow Pass and just below Mount Dickerman. Straddling the the Sauk-Stilliguamish Divide, this little summit hosted a fire lookout form 1935 to 1964. Much of the surrounding forest went up in flames in 1905, sparked by a locomotive heading to the mines of Monte Cristo. Large fire scarred snags and a uniform forest a century old attests to this past event. And while the surrounding forest has been recovering nicely since that conflagration, Barlow Point’s rocky summit still remains semi-open providing some pretty nice views of an impressive wall of surrounding peaks.
From the 3,222-foot pinnacle, take in good close-ups of Sheep Mountain, Twin Peaks, Mount Dickerman, Stillaguamish Peak, and Big Four Mountain. Enjoy too a perspective of Bedal Peak, Spring Mountain and Mount Pugh. And while you’re on Barlow peering at the peaks, be sure to peek down at the rocky ground at a profusion of penstemon. This little showy flower resembling pink and purple trumpets, adorns Barlow’s ledges.
The hike starts from the parking area at Barlow Pass, once the site of a Forest Service Guard Station and now the site of a new kiosk. A side trail immediately branches out left to follow the old railroad grade that once connected Monte Cristo to Everett. A quarter mile farther, another trail branches left, the old Government Trail. Both of these paths make for good rainy day walking and they can be hiked as a loop. The Barlow Point Trail continues right climbing steeply under a cool canopy of evergreens. It’s a short climb, and before you know it, you’ll be sitting on the point soaking up those aforementioned views. Good chance too, you’ll be soaking them up alone—a pretty rare occurrence off of the busy Mountain Loop Highway, but not on this oft forgotten trail.
For information on lodging and other attractions near Barlow Point visit www.snohomish.org
For information including maps on over 100 nearby hikes consult my Day Hiking North Cascades (Mountaineers Books)