Location: Near Index, Skykomish Valley
Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Roundtrip: 2.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 850 feet
Access: From Everett follow US 2 east for 37 miles to trailhead located on north side of highway just after entering Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Contact: Skykomish Ranger District: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
Good to Know: kid-friendly, dog-friendly, snow-free winter hike, restored fire lookout
Need a quick leg stretcher on your next trip across Stevens Pass? Wouldn’t mind a couple of views to go with the exercise as well? Or perhaps just a quick getaway not too far from the city? Have you hiked up to the Heybrook Lookout? It’s a short and sweet (with a little vertical kicked in) hike just outside of Index and a great spring destination when the surrounding high country is buried deep in snow. From the lookout’s lofty balcony, scan the scenic Skykomish Valley, relish the rugged beauty of the Wild Sky Wilderness’ Ragged Ridge, and stare straight across the valley at imposing Mount Index.
From the trailhead quickly leave behind busy US 2 and enter a cool, mossy forest. After angling east at an easy grade and crossing some creeks, reverse direction and start steeply climbing via a series of tight switchbacks. The trail meanders upward under an emerald canopy passing by giant cedar stumps, evidence of past logging activity. Approach a series of boulders carpeted with moss. Then swing east once again and crest the ridge. Continue along the ridge on a gentler incline to eventually bust out of the forest onto a ledge just below Heybrook’s fire lookout. The views here are limited, but they’re far better from the top of the 67-foot lookout tower perched on the 1700-foot ridge.
Ascend seven sets of stairs and from the lookout balcony behold a supreme view of the Skykomish Valley spread before you. Gaze east toward Stevens Pass and ominous Baring Mountain. Then look west to the whitewater frothy Forks of the Skykomish River. Finally turn south toward the massive rock fortress known as Mount Index. Snowfields perpetually cling to its precipitous crags. Bridal Veil Falls careens out of a cleft housing Lake Serene.
Hang around awhile and watch the evening sky cast a crimson hue on the impressive and imposing mountain. And don’t forget to give thanks to the Everett Mountaineers for making all of this viewing possible. It was their idea and hard work that restored the 1964 lookout. And check out the Friends of Heybrook Ridge–they are working hard to develop a large trail system on a new Snohomish County Park on the ridge. Their plans look promising offering some excellent hiking on this close to the city scenic ridge.
For information on lodging and other attractions near Heybrook Lookout, visit www.snohomish.org.
For more information on this hike and many others along the US 2 corridor from Everett to Wenatchee, pick up a copy of my Day Hiking Central Cascades (Mountaineers Books).