Index, Washington 98256
The morning sun paints the snow-blanketed peaks all around you and bathes the valley below in golden colors. In the distance, you can see Bridal Veil Falls flowing out of Lake Serene. That could be a nice hike, you think, after a bit of breakfast.
Seattle NorthCountry is a haven for avid backpackers and family day-trippers alike. The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest beckons with verdant hills that rise steeply into dramatic, snowy peaks. A hundred years ago, protecting this natural bounty meant foresters would live and work from fire towers, scanning the landscape for a telltale plumes of smoke. Over the years, technological advancements have made these manned cabins on stilts obsolete. Fire lookouts across the country are disappearing, crumbling to the earth they used to guard. Today, only about a hundred of the historic structures remain in Washington. Of those, a scant few have been restored and redesigned to become cabins in the clouds.
Heybrook Lookout is one of them. The Everett chapter of the Mountaineers, a 100+ year-old outdoor conservation & education community, spent eight years, hundreds of volunteer hours, and thousands of dollars in donations to restore the lookout. Not for the faint of heart, the guest house perches atop a 70-foot tower and observation deck, offering spectacular, unobstructed views of Mount Index, Mount Baring, Mount Persis and, of course, Bridal Veil Falls. Not to mention acres upon acres of Wild Sky Wilderness. The 14x14 ft cabin sleeps four and boasts a propane stove and cookware along with the all-important coffee pot and lantern. The rest is up to guests. It’s a far cry from the original tent platform, built in 1925. Still, there are a lot of steps to climb on the way to this slice of glamping heaven. Fortunately, the mile hike in, while certainly steep, is easily accomplished even with a sleeping bag and a backpack full of necessities. Don’t forget your camera; you will want to capture the natural beauty all around you.
The nearby town of Index is a favorite spot for climbers and hikers to grab a bite to eat. After a long day of breathing fresh air and stepping on crunchy fallen pine cones, reward yourself for your great decision making with a cold craft beer at Mt. Index Brewing and Distilling, (49315 US-2).
With Heybrook Lookout as your home base, this neck of the true PNW is yours to explore.