Three Fingers

Three Fingers
Photo by Josh Lewis, all rights reserved.

This is a combination of Three Peaks, the North of which is referred to as the summit because it is the highest elevation. The south peak is a tall spire that has been leveled to accommodate a fire lookout cabin. The cabin is vintage and is registered with the National Historic Registry.

(The following text added by theyogiclimber)

Three Fingers’ position much farther west from the crest of the Cascade Range and 4,490 feet of topographical prominence makes it a landmark visible from many vantage points in the Puget Sound basin, and also from many summits of the range to the east. With its three striking summit spires, and distinctive white Queest-Alb Glacier, it is easily the most conspicuous mountain between Mount Baker and Mount Rainier as seen from the Interstate 5 corridor that runs north-south through western Washington. Three Fingers was undoubtedly sighted by English naval explorer George Vancouver in 1792 while exploring the Puget Sound. At that time the mountain was possibly called "Queest Alb," as it was known in the local native-American language. Three Fingers is the high point of the Boulder Creek Wilderness south of Darrington.

Directions: From the town of Granite Falls, WA, travel east on the Mountain Loop Highway about 6.5 miles. Turn north onto the Tupso Pass Road (#41) and follow this long dirt road for 17 miles to the trailhead, elevation 3000 feet. The trailhead near Tupso Pass is not obvious, but look for the many cars parked alongside the road as this is a popular hike, especially on weekends. A Northwest Forest Pass parking permit is required as the trail is on land administered by the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

The Goat Flats Trail (#641), or trench as it is so rutted, covers 5 miles from Tupso Pass through forest and sub-alpine meadows (blueberries in season) to Goat Flat (elevation 5000 ft) where there are meadow camp sites with sunset views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Range to the west, and at night the bright lights of cities below.

The trail continues east from Goat Flat and reaches Tin Pan Gap in another 2 miles. The last mile of the route requires an ice axe for a short, exposed section of steep snow that must be traversed. Follow the ridge to the south slopes below South Peak, and finally ascend a couple vertical wooden ladders to reach the lookout on the South Peak. The South Peak was originally the highest of the three until rock was blasted off in the early 1930's by Harry Bedal and Harold Engles with dynamite to make room for the lookout cabin.

Refer to Cascade Alpine Guide: Climbing and High Routes, Volume 2, by Fred Beckey for complete information on all the established routes on Three Fingers.

For an interesting read about Three Fingers refer to "Three Fingers: The Mountain, The Men and a Lookout" by Malcolm S Bates.

Elevation (feet): 6,854
Elevation (meters): 2,089
Continent: North America
Country: United States
Range/Region: Cascade Range
State: Washington
Latitude: 48.169949
Longitude: -121.687789
Difficulty: Basic Snow/Ice Climb
Best months for climbing: Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct
Year first climbed: 1931
First successful climber(s): Forest Farr, Norval Grigg, John Lehmann, Art Winder
Nearest major airport: Seattle-Tacoma
Convenient Center: Granite Falls, WA

Thanks to Ron Cunningham for adding this peak.

Trip Reports

There are 3 trip reports for Three Fingers.

  • Log #20640 - by Gayla on Jan 30, 20073.00 stars
    I did it!! Left on Saturday, 8/19/06, at 7:30 a.m. Didn't take the dogs. It would have been SUICIDE. There were about 10 cars at the trailhead.
  • Log #17038 - by Ron Cunningham on Jan 29, 20023.00 stars
    This familiar trail was a difficult as expected. The hike to Goat Flats is trying, especially for the first mile - lots of roots, mud and some scrambles over 3 large rocks on the trail. Goat Flats...
  • Log #18758 - by johan on Feb 14, 20063.00 stars
    I've been rained off, snowed off, or blown off about every other attempt. Clear weather is at a premium, so go on a clear weekday in September. Ten attempts,four summits.