It doesn’t matter how many mountains you may have already hiked: The views from Sourdough Mountain will blow your doors off. This stony summit gives you a 360-degree view of the North Cascades’ most jagged peaks, from the sawlike Picket Range to Pyramid and Colonial Peaks, which rise steeply from the waters of Diablo Lake. The vantage point lets you appreciate the power of the glaciers that carved this landscape, and at one time, it also served as a fire lookout: Sourdough’s wooden fire tower, built in 1933 and restored in 1998, was once manned by beatnik poet Gary Snyder. Spend an hour on this lofty perch and you’ll understand the sense of remove Snyder described in "Mid-August" at Sourdough Mountain Lookout: “I cannot remember things I once read/A few friends, but they are in cities.”
It’s a long (10 miles, one way) hike from Ross Lake Resort to the Sourdough Lookout, but the rewards outshine any post-hike muscle aches. If you’re not staying at the resort, you can park at the village of Diablo and follow the Sourdough Mountain Trail for 5.2 miles, climbing 4,870 feet.