Ben There, Done That: The Other Green Mountain
If you're looking for a hike that is basically the epitome of a North Cascades hike, this is it! Green Mountain in Darrington has everything from shady forest to wide open meadows, mountain views to valley views, and the icing on top is the fire lookout at the summit.
Be sure to check trail reports before you bring Fido. Biting flies have been out in full force in recent weeks, and dogs with short hair can be vulnerable. (This is why Bear stayed home).
The trailhead parking lot is roughly 30 miles off the main road near Darrington. The latter half of the road is full of potholes and washboard gravel, so cars with short clearance may have a tougher time getting there. The actual parking lot is rather small. Because this is such a popular hike, an early arrival on the weekend is recommended.
Like most Cascade mountain hikes, this one starts off in the woods. About a third of the way to the summit the trees break out into a wide open meadow. The trees are gone, but there is plenty of vegetation to navigate. Dozens of varieties of plants and wildflowers make this a wonderful hike for the horticulturist. By mid to late August, the blueberries will be ripe enough for picking and eating.
Once you're in the open, it's not long until you see Glacier Peak. It's unmistakable in the southeastern sky and dominates the visuals most of this hike. The views get even better the further up you go!
Just over half-way you round the shoulder of Green Mountain. A short walk downhill leads you to a small pond. Beyond this lies more open meadow that makes you want to dance like you're in the movie The Sound of Music! After briefly flattening out, it's back to business with switchbacks leading the way to the summit. The last stretch of the hike swerves around a ridgeline opening up mountainous views to the northeast. The view is added incentive to see what it looks like up top.
After finally reaching the summit, the lookout is your reward! Take time to eat lunch and walk around the outer deck. There are too many mountain peaks to name, but Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan dominate the northern horizon while Glacier Peak controls the south. Cascade hikes don't get much better than this!