I missed our annual New Year’s day hike this year because of work schedules, so today was the makeup date for our group. With the snow piled up in the mountains and a number of trails inaccessible or unstable at the moment, we decided to hike something simple and headed out to Heybrook Lookout. We unfortunately caught the tail end of this weekend’s clear skies, but fresh off seeing ‘The Revenant’, I didn’t mind the landscape looking similarly moody and providing a proper winter ambiance for the hike.
To echo the last few trail reports for the lookout, traction devices and hiking poles are highly recommended. You encounter crusty snow and ice almost immediately off the trailhead and even with the trail’s fairly modest and gradual elevation gain, it is still quite slippery. You can probably reach the lookout without poles or spikes, but I doubt you’ll be pleased with the way you look while doing it. Along with ice and snow, there are still a number of downed trees from the last few storms that you will need to maneuver around, but it’s nothing that can’t be passed with a few agility drills, clever planning or wide berths.
It started to flurry a bit by the time we hit the lookout and the staircase up is a bit of a hazard with ice blanketing the steps, but if you take your time, you can navigate them safely. The top of the lookout is locked and inaccessible, but you still get great views of Baring and Index from the false summit just below. It also provides a nice nook to sit and eat lunch while admiring the wonderful view.
All and all, Heybrook Lookout was a great warm up hike for the year. If you get out there early enough in the day, it's a quick excursion that you can pair up with any of its Highway 2 neighbors, especially Lake Serene. Serene, while certainly a beautiful trail in its own right, doesn't quite give you the panorama view that Heybrook provides, making the two a nice complimentary pair in close proximity.