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According to the Washington State Parks website, the word "Pilchuck" comes from the Native American name "red water," for a creek in the area. Mount Pilchuck was likely among the "long ridge of snowy mountains" as described in the journal of English explorer George Vancouver during the spring of 1792. This peak stands well apart from the main Cascade Mountain range.

In 1918, the Forest Service built a fire lookout on Mount Pilchuck's summit. The Lookout was staffed until the 1960s. From 1957 to 1980, Washington State Parks administered a ski area here that was run by a concessionaire. The ski area closed in 1980 due to poor annual snow conditions.

The area currently is managed in partnership with the USFS and Everett Mountaineers. The Forest Service maintains the trail and trailhead, and State Parks and the Mountaineers maintain the historic lookout building.

Goldthorpe and Berndt - The Mount Pilchuck Ski Area Story