After the discovery of gold and silver near Harts Pass in 1893, prospectors hurriedly built a road from Methow Valley  to the mines. The precious metals petered out, but in the 1940s, fear of a Japanese invasion led the military to flatten the top of the Slate Peak and erect an early warning station, supplied in winter via dogsled. The site was later used for a Cold War radar station.
Today, a gravel road leads 19 miles from Mazama past the 2,000-foot slopes of glacially carved Goat Wall, and on to Harts Pass (6,197 feet), where it crosses the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The road splits at the pass. Turn left (south) for nine downhill miles to the ghost towns of Barron and Chancellor, once home to 2,000 miners. Turn right (north) for three steep miles to Slate Peak Lookout.
When you park here, you’re at the highest point you can drive to in Washington: 7,440 feet. A short walk leads to the lookout tower; be ready for spectacular 360-degree views of the entire Cascade Range. Harts Pass Road is steep and narrow; RVs and trailers are prohibited. It’s a great, but tiring, mountain bike ride. The road is not plowed beyond Lost River in the winter. Near Harts Pass, you can camp at two free Forest Service campgrounds with gorgeous alpine settings: Meadows and Harts Pass. They are usually open mid-July to late September; there is no potable water.
This high alpine country offers some of the most popular day hiking in this part of the state. Windy Pass Trail begins 1.5 miles up Slate Peak Road from Harts Pass and follows the PCT for 3.5 miles to Windy Pass. The hike begins at 6,800 feet with little additional elevation gain but offers striking views of peaks and meadows all along the route. A second fun hike with little change in elevation begins at Harts Pass and proceeds along the PCT south to Grasshopper Pass.
The round-trip distance is 11 miles, and the route follows the crest of the mountains to beautiful meadows at Grasshopper Pass. Because of the high elevation, these trails are often covered with snow until late July.