“A climb to the fire lookout on Waldo Mountain for views of Waldo Lake and the Central Cascades.”
— Bruce Hope
Lake · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers
This trail is enters the Waldo Lake Wilderness and the usual federal wilderness area regulations and restrictions apply here. Practice Leave No Trace (LNT) backcountry skills and ethics, camp 100 feet from fragile areas, bury human waste at least 200 feet from water, trails, and campsites. This trail is usually closed by snow between November and May.
This trail starts at the Salmon Lakes-Waldo Mountain Trailhead and heads east to a junction with Winchester Ridge Trail #3596. Offering a good climb, the trail takes you up to amazing views from a lookout atop Waldo Mountain, then down towards Lake Chetlo and to other trails that will take you to the western shore of Waldo Lake.
Shortly after leaving the trailhead following Salmon Lakes Trail #3585
, you reach the junction with Waldo Mountain Trail #3585, which bears left (north) and uphill. Turn left here and start a steady climb that will gain you almost 2,000 feet in about three miles. Two miles from the trailhead, you'll intersect the Waldow Meadows Trail #3591, but continue climbing on the #3592 so that, at three miles, you reach the Waldo Mountain lookout. From there, you'll have great views all along the spine of the Cascade Crest, of the Three Sisters to the northeast, and of myriad smaller lakes to the north and south. Waldo Lake will be visible to the southeast.
Per the Forest Service, the "Waldo Mountain Lookout is maintained and staffed by Middle Fork Ranger District. It is an especially valuable observation post during the frequent lightning storms along the Crest. Though built in the 1950s, it is outfitted and furnished with original furniture and cabinetry, making it very authentic as well as comfortable."
From the lookout, Waldo Mountain Trail #3592 descends a rocky ridge before terminating at the junction with the Winchester Ridge Trail #3596 about 3.7 miles from the trailhead. The delightful Lake Chetlo is a short ways east along the Winchester Ridge Trail #3596 and then the Wahana Trail #3583
Be prepared for mosquitoes in the early summer. The trail surface is smooth dirt or duff (few rocks or roots) to the west of the lookout; similar to the east of the lookout but with a few rockier sections coming down the ridge.
Flora & Fauna
Be prepared for mosquitoes in the early summer.