Sunday, November 30, 2008


For a while now, prolly ever since I got the 29er, I've been itchin' to get to the top of Lookout Mountain, the higher hill to the south that you see from the top of Galbraith. Today, the Clark Man and I got there. Here's how we did it. Time was somewhat a factor, so instead of heading up Galbraith then down road 4000 to where it comes out across from Sudden Valley Gate 13, we rode from our homes in the Columbia neighborhood out to Sudden Valley. That took about 50 minutes.
We followed Lake Louise Road for a couple miles (I guess; I have an altimeter but no odometer), past Stimpson Family Reserve, past Gate 13, and just across from Gate 9, we took a right at the gated road painted with the words, "Lookout Mountain Preserve". From there we headed up. And up. And up. (See above. That's John. Heading up.)
We went straight (or left according to the topo map) at a junction lower down and then just followed the gravel road to a fork at about 2,100 feet el. Here's where we didn't know where to go. The map shows two seperate tower areas--one to the left (south) at 2,676 feet and one to the right (north) at 2,677 feet. Our friend Steve Noble had e-mailed me that from the lower tower, you could bushwack for about seven or eight minutes then find a road that descends all the way to the Plantation Rifle Range just above Lake Samish.
Lower tower must mean the south one, right? Don't you think of south as lower than north? And 2,676 feet is lower than 2,677, innit? So we headed left and climbed another 600 feet to the south tower. Which, guess what ... anyone? ... wasn't the tower we wanted. Still, though there weren't any views, it was cool to be up there. (Here're some stats: from Lake Louise Road we climbed 2,200 feet in about an hour and 10. BTW, these towers are about 900 feet higher than Galbraith Mountain's towers.)
So, we headed over to the north and, apparently, lower tower, dropping 600 feet awfully darn quickly, only to have to immediately start climbing right back up again. (In general, we don't climb as fast as we descend.) On the way back up, we kept ours eyes open for any semblance of a trail. Just above, John bushwacks following something that petered out to nothing but at least we were getting views here--south toward Lake Samish. We were above the clouds and the cloudbank over the lake was stunning.
Just before reaching the north towers, the road splits, go left and make for the near tower a couple hundred yards to the south; that's where you'll find the trail. (Did anyone else notice a change in the authors' point of view?) In fact, just above, John is standing right where you'll find it. The trail goes south for a few hundred yards across a clear cut, then just before entering some trees, turns left and drops steeply across and down the hillside. (There was some pink flagging in the trees, but I wouldn't depend on it being there forever.) Our bikes on our shoulders, we hike-a-biked for about 10 minutes until we found ourselves on a gravel road overlooking Lake Samish. We were now on the south side of the mountain.
(Backtracking a bit, below is the view of Galbraith Mountain from the north tower. The clear-cut to the left is Woopsie-Woodle, the clear-cut to the right is Wonderland. The towers are in the wooded section in the middle. Tomorrow I'll put this up so you can click on it and see it bigger and better.)
Now back on road, we followed logging roads and the like all the way down. (NOTE: As soon as you get on your bike go right, then left at the first switchback. Don't go straight and down here; the road dead-ends just ahead.) Eventually we ended up at the Plantation Rifle Range which, despite giving us heart attack after heart attack from the sound of exploding firearms, was a most welcome sight. From there we headed home and ... I got a flat tire near the Sehome Haggen. A minor inconvenience. ('specially since I went to Starbucks and had coffee whilst waiting for Jen and Bake to come pick me up).
A truly extraordinary ride! I've no idea how we'll top it. But we look forward to trying.


  1. That trial from the tower to the road is called the "glory trail" Don't ask me how I know.

  2. That trial from the tower to the road is called the "glory trail" Don't ask me how I know.

  3. Thanks, Daniel. How do you know--oh, right. You said not to ask.

  4. Anonymous9:42 AM

    so it's been a couple of years since you posted about Lookout Mountain. I'm still trying to find a way in from the Samish hwy side. Went to the shooting range to find the road you came down from. There is a logging road but the gate was locked tight and no easy way around it.

  5. Sorry, I don't know the way from that side. And even from the Sudden Valley approach, I'd still only know the descent via trial and error. Though now that I've got a Garmin Edge, next time I head up I should be able to map it afterward. - McQ