Anytime I see the phrase “hidden gem” online I assume that it’s click-bait and keep scrolling. These days we classify many hot dog stands, coffee shops, and Netflix shows with this cliche, collectively devaluing its worth. However, there are a few exceptions, in our humble opinion, and Three Fingers Lookout is one of them.
The lookout is a historic fire observation tower in the Mount Baker National Forest, a few hours from Seattle, Washington. Built in 1930, it’s one of the most remote fire lookouts in the area and is maintained by a local climbing group.
The one-room wood cabin is just 14×14 feet, painted white and bolted directly into the rock. High winds at Three Fingers are quite common, so the lookout is laiden with burly wooden window shutters and steel guylines that reinforce the foundation. Built by two men over a three-year period, it’s a true feat of engineering perched on top of a rock spire. Due to high costs, it was only manned until 1942, and because it is challenging to get to, it isn’t visited too often.
The drive to the trailhead is straightforward, but full of potholes on a dirt road, and the end of the road is obvious—due to a washout several years ago the road is closed with a rock and dirt barrier. This is where the real fun begins.