One of the best viewpoints of the entire watershed comes at the top of Red Top Mountain. At 5,300 feet, it offers panoramic views that extend across the Cle Elum Valley and all the way to Mount Rainier. You can even see Mount Adams poking above the Goat Rocks Wilderness on a clear day.
In addition, there is a spectacular view across to the Stuart Range, including its 9,400 foot namesake, Mount Stuart. If it is clear, you can also see down into the deserts of eastern Washington towards Ellensburg.
To get to Red Top Mountain, you can access it 17 miles up from North Fork Teanaway road (the road up to the Esmeralda Basin) or from Highway 97 as you approach Blewitt Pass. At the parking area, there is a fairly steep 1/2 mile hike to the old fire lookout at the summit of the mountain.
The parking area starts in the trees, but shortly thereafter enters a rocky alpine zone of beautiful wildflowers.
Bitter Root Blossoms
A thunderstorm was building that day and there was a fire in the distance producing hazy smoke to the northeast, so the views were limited. But, nonetheless, it was a beautiful place to take in the panorama of the Teanaway Valley and beyond.
The entire Teanaway watershed is visible below. You can actually see the North Fork, Middle Fork, and West Fork valleys. Cle Elum Ridge separates the Teanaway valley from the Cle Elum valley. I-90 is in the valley behind Cle Elum Ridge. Mount Rainier can be seen in the distance. The dead and dying trees you see below are the result of a major spruce budworm outbreak. These moths feed on the new growth of grand fir and Douglas fir in water-stressed regions, such as on the drier eastern slopes.