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North Mountain: Climb to the Lookout and Help Preserve It

North Mountain is pretty small as far as mountains go in the Cascades.

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photo by: Chris Neibauer, curtesy of Friends of North Mountain Lookout

Compared to its neighbors (notably Whitehorse Mountain) North Mountain is really like a large hillock — an easy “win” for the casual or intermediate weekend hiker.

It can be climbed in only a few hours via old logging roads. The top offers a stunning view of the foggy foothills and blue-green/snow capped peaks of the Central and North Cascades, as well as the tiny town of Darrington, just to the south.

The south slopes of North Mountain is also home to the brand-new (and also in-progress) North Mountain Bike Skills Course: a network of mountain bike trails for bikers of all skill levels.

Beginning in 2020, you can be a "voluntourism" volunteer up on the mountain here. You can be stationed in the lookout for a week’s time during the summer, as well as act as guide and docent for people who hike to the top.

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What is voluntourism? It’s a compound word, and, as you can probably guess, it’s an experience for people who want a role that’s part volunteer, part tourist. Voluntourism is a way of getting a vacation while investing in a place or a cause that you care about.

As a volunteer in the North Mountain Lookout, you’ll sit in an old wooden fire lookout on the top of a mountain. More than that, you’ll help to actively repair and preserve the place as well as acting as a docent for summer hikers who are climbing the mountain.

A bit about the history of lookouts -- before the days of aerial imaging (airplanes and satellite technology), fires were spotted by people who sat in mountaintop towers. Fires would then be reported to ranger stations by radio, heliograph, or telephone. There is some romance in this notion, definitely.

To learn more about forthcoming voluntourism opportunities on North Mountain and to express your interest, please email the Friends of the North Mountain.

Learn more about the hike to the top right here.

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