Kelly Butte Lookout

I’ve been back home for about six weeks now and in that time I dove headfirst back into the grind and haven’t looked back since. Between work, friends and adult-life obligations, I feel like I’ve been constantly running around like a caffeinated cheetah. Remembering to slow down isn’t exactly my strong suit, but I find that actively setting aside time to get outside for some vitamin D induced zen does help in that area. My goal is to spend a day in the mountains 3-4 times a month, and perhaps writing about the experience and posting it on this lovely little site of mine will help hold me accountable to doing just that.

A few weeks ago I made my way to Kelly Butte Lookout and it didn’t disappoint in the least. It was also my new (to me) car’s first time in the mountains and Mulder did fantastic amongst the potholes, dirt and rocks. And yes, that is my car’s name. What can I say? The truth is still out there and I want to believe.

Kelly Butte

Mileage: 3.4 miles (RT)

Elevation: 1100 ft

Difficulty: Moderate

Area: Mt. Rainier


This one was short, sweet and decently steep. Aside from the 3/4 mile walk under shady evergreens in the beginning, it turned out to be 95% in the sun. By Washington weather standards (and I’ll admit that we’re wimps), it was a toasty hike to say the least. The nice thing about the lack of trees and shade is that you have near-constant mountain views, though it was still too hazy/smokey to see Rainer thanks to the British Columbia wildfires.

Being a perfectly content and self-proclaimed lone wolf, I like to hike on my own and usually opt for weekdays to avoid other people. Yes, I know how anti-social that sounds. In any case, I only ran into three other groups, all of whom were going the opposite direction as me, and the first of which was on their way down at 9am. Apparently these overachievers made pancakes and coffee at the top. I mean, I’d be willing to consider ditching the loner status if I could get in on that action.

It didn’t take too long to reach the top but I kept getting disctracted along the way with remarkable views, little streams and wildflowers galore. 



When I reached the top, I was the only person and ended up having the lookout to myself for over an hour. Usually fire lookouts are locked up, but this one was open and very welcoming. There was a logbook, camping chairs, cots, maps, water, even books and cards. I set up my hammock and got down to eating a much less glorious breakfast than my fellow hikers and hunkered down to admire the view and drink up the mountain air.




On the way down I was thinking about how peaceful and quiet it is in the mountains. My mind found itself happily reflecting on the serene atmosphere, the tranquility of the place, the beau– SQUEEEEEEEE! Mid-calming thought I heard a deafening squeal that sounded like something between a whistle in all its glory and a screeching toddler in the throws of a tantrum. When I looked around I saw a marmot sitting on a rock (or was it a groundhog? A beaver? Mole? Minature bear? Someone please educate me). He screeched again and two faithful companions ran to his side. One more screech and they disappeared in opposite directions. It was like I was witnessing marmot (or not a marmot) drill practice in full swing. I loved every screeching minute of it.


After a few hours of blissful mountain quality time, I successfully made it safely back to Mulder and was on my way, begrudgingly, back to the city. All in all, it was a solid day and is just one more place to add to the list of Things That Make Me Fall In Love With the Pacific Northwest Even Though I Am Already Head Over Heels. Admittedly, it’s a fairly long list and hopefully I’ll share even more of it soon!

Happy hiking, friends!


Kelly Butte

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Sloth enthusiast, Nutella extremist, and all around sassy human with a deep love for hoppy beer and discovering the world's many gems. Currently gallivanting the globe while drinking more coffee than necessary.

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