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Purcell Lookout

South Cascades > White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley
46.5814, -121.8327 Map & Directions
8.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
2,600 feet
Highest Point
5,442 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
  • Mountain views
  • Summits

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
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Though the road to Purcell Lookout is long washed-out, and the trail can be rugged and hard to follow, those who head here will be rewarded with incredible panoramic views of the stunning South Cascades. Continue reading

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Hiking Purcell Lookout

Accessing this trail is an adventure in and of itself, since you begin with a walk down overgrown FR 3610, which may have several washouts that require scrambling or fording. After this first exciting mile, you'll see the sign for the trail, still intact, despite the road being in poor shape.

From the trailhead proper, climb gradually through forest for one and a half miles. You'll soon reach wildflower meadows and a more merciful grade as the trail continues to climb, but this time with switchbacks.

Three miles from the trailhead (about 3.6 from your car), arrive at a junction. A left takes you back to Highway 12, 8 miles from here. You want to take the right trail, and ascend the ridge among ever more wildflowers.

Reenter the forest for a short time, and then arrive at the site of the former lookout. There's no longer a structure here, but the views remain. All around you are craggy peaks and dramatic panoramas. Mounts Rainier, Adams, and St. Helens are the most evident, but keep an eye out for Mount Aix and the Goat Rocks, as well as the Tatoosh Range. You may even see Mount Hood if it's a clear enough day.

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Purcell Lookout

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.5814, -121.8327 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Driving east on Highway 12, go through the tiny town of Randle. From milepost 120, continue another 0.9 miles, and turn left on Davis Creek Road. Continue another 1.1 miles to ROAD CLOSED signs and barriers, then make a left on unsigned FR 63. Continue 4.6 miles, and park at the waterfall on right. Be sure to leave room for other vehicles to park or pass. Walk up the road 150 yards to abandoned road 63-057 on your left.

More Hike Details


South Cascades > White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley

Purcell Lookout (#285)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: South Cascades (Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Randle No. 301 map

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Purcell Lookout

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