Drive east on State Route 20 to the Baker River Highway and beautiful Baker Lake. The area around this nine-mile reservoir features camping, boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking and pack and saddle trips.
Developed campgrounds are located on the western side of the lake.
The Baker Lake Trail is an easy family hike. It extends along the eastern shoreline, crossing Baker River at the north end of the lake.
Mt. Baker National Recreation Area (NRA)
This impressive mountain landscape on the southeast flanks of Mt. Baker’s slopes offers year-round recreational fun. During summer months, hikers and stock parties share trails leading off from the end of Forest Service road 13 or through the Middle Fork and South Fork Nooksack River drainages. Winter recreation includes cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
Explore the Skagit Wild and Scenic River System
Segments of the Skagit, Sauk, Suiattle and Cascade rivers make up the federally designated Skagit Wild & Scenic River system.
Baker Lake Sockeye Season
Sockeye season could open as early as July and fishing enthusiasts will be flocking to Baker Lake.
This is a family-friendly hike to beautiful sub-alpine lakes. The first mile gently winds through forest, into a lush open meadow and a junction with Anderson Butte Trail 611.1. Stay to the right to go to Anderson and Watson Lakes.
Continue on the main trail for a mile to a second trail junction at 4,700 feet. The trail to the right descends 0.5 miles to lower Anderson Lake at 4,500 feet or take a left at the second junction to climb .5 miles up to a saddle where the trail enters the Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness before dropping down to the two Watson Lakes at 4,400 feet. Both groups of lakes offer spectacular views of surrounding peaks and are notoriously buggy in summer.
This is a wonderful family hike for all seasons with its low elevation and level grade. Stands of giant old growth trees draped in lichen and covered in moss are some of the highlights along this trail. Baker Lake Trail is the only trail on Mt. Baker Ranger District open for stock and llama use year round. It can also be accessed at the north via Baker River Trail 606.
This trail leads into a majestic stand of Douglas fir that regrew after Mt. Baker erupted and started a forest fire in 1843. You can still see the burned snags of the cedar trees that once dominated the area. From south to north, the trail contours the eastern shoreline of Baker Lake, offering glimpses of Mt. Baker. All along the trail spot western trillium, twinflower, foamflower, coralroot and twisted stalk.
Cross Anderson Creek at mile 1.5 by a single foot log or a horse ford. A spur trail at mile 1.8 goes left .3 miles to Anderson Point and campsites at the edge of Baker Lake. Continue two more miles on Baker Lake Trail and find another spur trail on the left that leads .3 miles to Maple Grove Camp. Boaters and hikers often use this campground with six tent sites.
In 4.5 miles along Baker Lake Trail pass campsites at Silver Creek and 1.5 miles beyond Silver Creek reach the junction with Noisy Creek Trail 610.3. Turn left to Noisy Creek campsites on the point or right to hike Noisy Creek Trail 610.3.
If you continue on Baker Lake Trail, you’ll cross a footbridge over scenic Hidden Creek in three miles. The trail drops down to parallel Baker River to the trail's end at the intersection with Baker River Trail 606. Horse camps are available near the Baker River Trailhead, approximately .5 miles south of the Baker Lake Trail terminus.
Immerse yourself in this rainforest hike and experience this unique ecosystem. Accessible most of the year, this low-elevation hike takes you through stands of old growth trees, past beaver ponds teeming with wildlife and ends at Sulphide Creek and Camp. The deeply carved river valley engulfs you as the trail passes massive cedars and giant moss-covered boulders.
For the first .6 miles the trail is fully accessible to the scenic Baker River suspension bridge. This is the junction with the Baker Lake Trail 610 that follows the eastern shore of the lake south. Stay left past the bridge to continue on Baker River Trail, entering the North Cascades National Park in one mile. The trail travels through the park for another mile, ending at Sulphide Camp.
Be prepared for wet stream crossings during times of high runoff.
Climbers use this trail as an approach to Mt. Baker Summit which is within Mt. Baker Wilderness.The route is muddy, brushy and difficult to follow beyond two miles as the trail is not maintained beyond the two-mile mark. The trail wanders through the forest for two miles and turns into a boot path. Continue climbing through the forest and eventually break out on the Boulder Moraine. Follow the trail through the moraine to the base of the cliff at Boulder Ridge. You will need to climb the cliff to access the ridge.
The ridge offers open meadows and excellent views of Mt. Baker and the Boulder Glacier.
Hike this trail south to north: There is no bridge crossing over the Middle Fork Nooksack River from the Forest Service Road 38 trailhead access.
Wind through pleasant forest to arrive at two buggy mid-elevation mountain lakes. Start at the Pioneer Horse Camp near the end of Forest Service Road 12 and climb 1,000 feet in 3.5 miles to reach the junction with Bell Pass Trail 603.3. Turn left at the junction, enter the Mt. Baker Wilderness in about .25 miles and reach Lake Doreen in .75 miles. Soon after find a spur trail to the right leading to campsites on the east side of Elbow Lake. Continue on the main trail; descend gently past Elbow Lake, through some boggy areas and among ancient trees for 1.5 miles to a view of the Twin Sisters Mountain Range. Hike another two miles to the northern trail terminus near the Middle Fork Nooksack River. There is no bridge over the river to reach the north trailhead and fording the river may not be possible during high river flows.
Elbow Lake and Lake Doreen are popular fishing spots.
Follow the Ridley Creek drainage through Mt. Baker Wilderness to Mazama Park and end at the junction of the Bell Pass Trail 603 in the Mt. Baker National Recreation Area. Large western hemlocks and groves of Alaska yellow cedar highlight this trail. In the first 0.5 mile you cross the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River. There is no bridge and fording the river may not be possible during high river flows.
Note: Ridley Creek Trail has received minimal maintenance over the past several years and is not recommended for stock.
This trail is frequently used by climbers attempting to summit 9,127-foot Mt. Shuksan via the Sulphide Glacier in the North Cascades National Park. The first 1.5 miles of trail is converted from an old logging road., The trail then switchbacks though an old timber harvest area. At 2 miles the trail condition deteriorates as it winds steeply up through dense forest. In another mile the trail breaks out onto Shannon Ridge at 4,600 feet, offering spectacular views of Mt. Shuksan, Mt Baker and Baker Lake. The trail continues along the open ridge to the National Park boundary.
Campsites are available along the ridge. Bring Blue Bags or another Leave No Trace approved method to pack out solid human waste. The route enters the North Cascades National Park approximately 0.5 miles up the ridge.
Travel east on Interstate 90 to Snoqualmie Pass, where a multitude of recreational possibilities await you. Don't miss downhill skiing at Snoqualmie Pass. Hike for endless miles in the awe-inspiring Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Mountains to Sound Greenway
Drive Interstate 90 east from Seattle to Snoqualmie Pass, stopping along the way to fish for trout in the Snoqualmie River, or meander along the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail, a one-mile walk through stately old-growth fir and cedar. Leave the freeway at milepost 47 and drive the Denny Creek Road, following the historic wagon route used by early settlers to cross Snoqualmie Pass. Fourteen trailheads access more than a 100 miles of trails ranging in difficulty from "almost easy" to "punishing." Hike to scenic ridgetops or peaceful mountain lakes.
Allow time to walk along the Gold Creek Pond Interpretive Trail, where mountains are often reflected in the pond, providing great photo opportunities.
The Wilderness Experience
Snoqualmie Ranger District is responsible for the stewardship and preservation of the Clearwater Wilderness, portions of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the Norse Peak Wilderness. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy this wild landscape while preserving its integrity and beauty for future generations.
Cross Humpback Creek and climb steadily and sometimes steeply up the western slope of Silver Peak. Traveling south through old clear-cuts, cross the abandoned Milwaukee Road railroad line, now John Wayne Trail. Approximately a mile and a half west of two-mile-long Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel in Iron Horse State Park Trail enter old-growth forest at .75 miles. From here, take switchbacks up the mountain for the next two miles and level out about a mile before the lake. The trail ends near the lake outlet with good campsites across the outlet on the northwest side of the southwest section of the lakeshore.
Begin at the Gold Creek Trailhead and walk counterclockwise around the Gold Creek Pond Trail following the signs to the junction with Gold Creek Trail, approximately a fourth mile. Gold Creek Trail follows a road through private property over a mile before entering the national forest and becoming a trail. At milepost 2.5 enter Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Wander up the Gold Creek Valley through deep forest, open talus and cross several large avalanche tracks with occasional glimpses of Gold Creek.
An especially large avalanche in 2007-2008 cut a large swath through the trees below Alta Mountain, crossed Gold Creek and knocked down trees on the opposite side of the valley. Several fords require wading and crossing Gold Creek at milepost 4.3, but may not be safe during high water. You’ll find a few good campsites along the creek.
At about five miles the maintained trail ends at a junction. Beyond this point the trails are overgrown and difficult to follow. The left fork climbs one steep mile through vine maple, alder and talus (rockslide) to Alaska Lake at 4,230 feet. The right fork proceeds 1.75 miles up the main valley, climbing through avalanche greenery and forest, reaching the base of Alaska Mountain. A steep, hazardous boot path on a staircase of rocks and roots climbs to Joe Lake at 4,624 feet.
The Middle Fork Trail crosses an unusual arched beam cable-hung bridge just below the confluence of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Taylor Rivers. After crossing the bridge turn left at junction with Pratt River Trail 1035. Turn upstream and enjoy walking between the river and overhanging cliffs.
At 0.75 mile, climb away from the river and pass under a prominent knob known by locals as Stegosaurus Butte. Another mile further, follow the old logging railroad grade used by North Bend Timber Company in the 1930s. At three miles descend again to river level. You can follow the Middle Fork Trail for miles on trail and abandoned 1930s-era railroad beds through mature second-growth forests with remnant old-growth trees and snags with occasional views of Garfield Mountain and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. At milepost 5.8 a spur trail will take you to the end of Middle Fork Road 56 and Dingford Creek Trail 1005. At milepost 8.5 intersect the Rock Creek Trail 1013 to go to Snow Lake, a short side trail to Goldmyer Hot Springs at milepost 11.0, where a private fee is charged. Join the Dutch Miller Trail at milepost 14.5. Floods on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and debris flows from tributary streams destroy short segments of the trail on a regular basis. Stream fords may be difficult or dangerous to cross during high water.
This portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail heads south from Snoqualmie Pass. Cross open ski slopes before cresting the ridge and dropping into the forest. In two miles arrive at Lodge Lake, a surprisingly peaceful area, despite its close proximity to the ski area and highway.
Past the lake meander through alternating timbered and clear-cut sections towards Olallie Meadow and through Windy Pass into the Wenatchee National Forest and beyond. The open terrain and occasional clear-cuts allow for panoramic views of Mt. Rainier and the South Cascades.
The Pratt Lake Trail leads to a number of areas, offering almost unlimited possibilities for hiking, fishing and scrambling. Pass the junction with Granite Mountain Trail 1016 at milepost 0.9. At three miles a junction on the left takes you to Talapus and Olallie Lakes within Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Both lakes are very popular day-hike destinations and heavily used.
At milepost 4.0 the trail splits and Mount Defiance Trail 1009 continues straight along the ridge above Talapus Lake, whereas the Pratt Lake trail turns to the right, dropping into the Pratt Lake basin. The Pratt Lake Trail ends here, becoming Melakwa Trail 1011 near the Pratt Lake outlet at an unmarked junction with Pratt River Trail 1035. Camp here or continue to Lower Tuscohatchie Lake on the Melakwa Lake Trail for more camp spots if Pratt Lake is crowded.
Cross the Taylor River on a concrete road bridge and follow the old overgrown Taylor River Road through second-growth forest. Abandoned spur roads and paths lead down to the Taylor River for a picnic or a dip in the river on a hot day. Other destinations include the unsigned and unmaintained Marten Lake Trail 1006, departing at milepost 2.8. Check out the pool and falls, best seen from the wooden footbridge crossing Marten Creek. If you arrive at the foot bridge you've past the trail to Martin Lake. Follow an unmarked hard-to-find boot path on the left to reach Otter Falls and Lipsy Lake at milepost 4.75. Look for a cairn marking the junction. If you miss it you’ll come to Big Creek Falls and a concrete road bridge within a fourth mile, a worthwhile destination and good turnaround for a day trip.
At approximately 6.3 miles from the trailhead arrive at a trail junction with Nordrum Lake Trail 1004. The road ends here. At the junction, turn left, follow the trail and enter Alpine Lakes Wilderness and untouched forest, passing viewpoints and waterfalls in route to Snoqualmie Lake at milepost 8. Follow the trail along the lake before climbing steep switchbacks to Deer and Bear Lakes and finally arrive at a pass at milepost 10. Here the trail becomes Dorothy Lake Trail 1072 and descends to Lake Dorothy and points beyond.
Snow Lake Trail is the most frequented trail in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. If you want to avoid crowds try getting an early start and avoid warm sunny weekends. At Alpental Ski Area ascend gradually to a junction with the Source Lake Overlook Trail at approximately milepost 1.7. Turn right and climb a series of steep switchbacks, entering the Alpine Lakes Wilderness just before a saddle, the watershed boundary between the South Fork and Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River.
From here enjoy great views of Snow Lake below, north to mountains and valleys in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Descend another series of switchbacks to the shore of Snow Lake and end at a junction with High Lakes Trail 1012 and Rock Creek Trail 1013.1. Snow Lake can be snow covered until mid-July and the trail down from the saddle is often snow covered on July 4th. Wear good boots and be prepared to turn around if you’re not prepared for snow travel.
This moderate hike is very popular with first-time backpackers and families with children. Begin walking in second-growth forest replanted during the 1960s. At 0.6 miles the forest structure changes as you leave the old harvest area and enter a forest that burned early in the 20th century. Look for a few burned snags still standing along the trail. Ascend gradually in a series of swithbacks following Talapus Creek to a footlog over the creek at the Alpine Lakes Wilderness boundary. At milepost 2.0 pass Talapus Lake, a good place for families with small children to stop and enjoy. Continue on the trail 1.4 miles to Olallie Lake, passing a spur trail to Pratt Lake Trail 1007. Overuse, wet ground and lack of funding have contributed to muddy trail conditions and dilapidated boardwalk from the Wilderness boundary to Olallie Lake, especially in the early summer. Use care on wet puncheon.
The historic Mather Memorial Parkway (State Route 410) is the gateway to a recreational haven. On a clear day, enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Rainier. For more excitement, take a spin in the off-road vehicle area at Evans Creek, or zip down the slopes of Crystal Mountain Ski Area. Or if you prefer solitude, escape into the solace of the forest and leave the world behind.
Mather Memorial Parkway
Created in 1931, this paved two-lane classic Cascades drive along Highway 410 from Enumclaw to the eastern edge of Mount Rainier National Park presents majestic views of Mount Rainier and surrounding peaks. More than 200 miles of trails accommodate hikers, horses and mountain bikes. Drive, hike or ride to the Suntop Lookout Cabin at the top of Forest Road 7315. Choose a primitive campsite along forest roads east and west of the parkway. In November buy a permit at the Enumclaw office and take the family out to the woods to cut your own Christmas tree. Most forest roads are unpaved and minimally maintained. Cell phones have limited coverage in the mountains.
On a clear day the view is superb, with Mt. Rainier only 10 miles to the south, the central Cascades, Olympic Mountains, and Mt. Baker 150 miles to the north. A breathtaking 3,000-foot drop leads down to the White River on the east with Huckleberry Creek on the west. The lookout was built in 1933. It is open to the public during the day.
Linking Darrington with Granite Falls is the Mountain Loop National Scenic Byway, which was first pioneered in 1891 by miners` dreams. Later developed as a road by loggers and members of the CCC, this road was designated a Scenic Byway in 1991. Today`s roadway passes 55 miles through boom-and-bust town sites and abandoned claims, as well as rushing rivers and glacier-clad peaks. Although the tracks are gone and the daily whistle silenced, today`s traveler can still see remnants of times gone by.
Discover the Verlot Public Service Center, near the South Fork Stillaguamish River. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933 to 1942, Verlot`s handsome buildings reflect the architectural style and fine craftsmanship of that era and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Operating seasonally, the center`s employees will help you plan an outing.
With snow lingering at Barlow Pass through late spring, driving the entire loop is usually limited to late spring through the fall. The road is paved from Verlot to Barlow Pass and from Darrington to the junction with the White Chuck River Road. The middle portion (14 miles) is a single-lane gravel road.
Climb steadily through thick, old forest and enter the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness. The forest is punctuated by avalanche chutes before opening into the meadow basin below the steep slopes and cliffs of Bedal and Sloan Peaks. The trail becomes more obscure toward the end and gradually disappears before the Harry Bedal’s historic trapping cabin.
A pair of trails creates a nice loop trip to a spectacular low-elevation lake with Cadet Peak towering above the headwaters.
Choose between two routes leading toward Goat Lake that join 1.6 miles before reaching Goat Lake. The upper trail leaves the parking lot, following along an abandoned logging road. At 0.25 miles up this main trail a junction leads down toward Elliot Creek.
The lower, hiker-only trail along Elliot Creek passes through beautiful old-growth forest for the first two miles following the former puncheon wagon route developed in the 1890s to access mining claims. The trail climbs through alder forest to meet the upper trail at 3.6 miles.
The upper trail is straightforward from the trailhead, initially passing through young alder and hemlock on easy grades with nice views of the valley and surrounding peaks along the way. About one mile from the parking area you’ll reach a junction to the north, which is the beginning of the Chockwich Mountain Bike Trail 647.5. A half mile past the junction with the lower trail is the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness boundary amid an impressive stand of western red cedar. The trail gets steeper and switchbacks up the last half mile before reaching Goat Lake.
Campsites and a backcountry box-style toilet are available just to the left before reaching the lake.
Climb sweeping switchbacks through open woods for three miles to Bingley Gap at 4,425 feet. The trail turns east and continues climbing up along the ridge, entering Glacier Peak Wilderness shortly before meadows and a saddle overlooking 12-acre Round Lake at 5,100 feet. No stock animals are allowed beyond this point. At 0.7 miles a side trail drops 550 feet down to the lake where camp spots and a box toilet can be found among the trees. The main trail continues past a series of camps with water before becoming hard to follow. This seldom maintained trail has sections of dense brush and faint tread as it ascends and descends steeply through a number of small basins. Early season travel can be hazardous because of high-angle snow slopes and difficult route finding. Passing through meadows and sporadic forest, the trail passes little Hardtack Lake at 9 miles and reaches 9.9-acre Camp Lake at 11 miles where you will find good camping. From here the Lost Creek Ridge Trail climbs to a knoll, then drops to a rocky basin and descends to 51.2-acre Lake Byrne at 5,550 feet. Surrounded by dramatic cliff walls, this lake melts out in August.
Camping is limited and campfires are prohibited, so bring a stove. The trail descends 2,250 feet for two miles to the former Kennedy Hot Springs and the junction with the White Chuck Trail 643. Floods in October, 2003, washed out bridges over the White Chuck River and Kennedy Creek. Fording the Whitechuck River is extremely dangerous and not recommended at any time of year. Be sure to carry water on this route.
This trail accesses Glacier Peak Wilderness. Begin hiking on an old road that climbs steadily and then drops to a junction with the Crystal Lake Trail. Stay right and continue another four miles to the former road end where the trail takes off left and climbs steeply through dense woods before reaching the first meadow. A small stream nearby suggests a relaxing pause for lunch. Continue on for another 1.5 miles until the junction with the Meadow Lake Trail 657A on the left (east). Drop down 0.7 miles to the 11-acre lake. The main trail continues on past the lake turnoff, angling up a ridge passing forest and meadows at two miles.
Continue gaining and losing elevation, with numerous switchbacks and excellent views of Glacier Peak. Although camp spots are frequent along the way, the first site with guaranteed water is at 8.5 miles. The ridge crest is neared at 5,850 feet. From here, you’ll need a compass and map to reach 9.6-acre Diamond Lake at 5,250 feet and 11-acre Emerald Lake at 5,150 feet, since there is not a trail to either lake. The trail continues up and down, remaining below the ridge crest and proceeding through patches of trees, flowers and views. At 12 miles the trail drops steadily as you pass Fire Mountain. Good camping can be found here. This is the point to turn back and return to the trailhead. If continuing, the unmaintained trail will drop steeply down switchbacks 4.5 miles to the junction with the former White Chuck Trail, which was obliterated in the 2003 floods. The old route leads west, back to the now decommissioned upper five miles of the Whitechuck River Road 23.
Begin in impressive old-growth forest and enter Glacier Peak Wilderness at 0.5 miles. Climbing gradually, pass through a magnificent cedar forest and occasional avalanche swaths. Find campsites and backcountry toilets in 3.5 miles at Red Creek, 2,800 feet, and five miles at Mackinaw Shelter, 2,950 feet.
From here begin climbing relentless switchbacks, gaining 3,000 feet in three miles. The switchbacks seem unending, but scenic vistas begin and improve as you gain altitude. The alpine meadows and the splendid views make it well worth the effort. At 8.4 miles reach the Pacific Crest Trail 2000 and at three-fourth miles south you can find good camping on the bench below White Pass. Please bring a camp stove as wood is scarce and use existing campsites to protect fragile alpine vegetation. Hikers can also go north 3.5 miles on the PCT, over 6,500 feet, to Red Pass and good camping at Glacier Peak meadows with astounding views of Glacier Peak.
From the trailhead follow an old road briefly on the flats approaching the North Fork Sauk River. There is no bridge across the river and an often difficult ford is required to continue. This trail receives sporadic maintenance. Be prepared for windfalls and brush.
After crossing the river, climb steeply through timber to enter Henry M. Jackson Wilderness in about a mile and cross Cougar Creek near large falls in two miles. Crossing can sometimes be difficult during times of heavy snowmelt. From here cross a recent avalanche path where the trail has been obliterated, creating difficult cross-country travel but impressive views. Beyond the slide area ascend into meadows at the base of Sloan Peak with good views and the turn-around point for hikers.
Begin hiking in the forest to a very difficult ford of the South Fork Stillaguamish River at 0.5 miles and climb steeply to the ridge between Morning Star and Sperry Peaks. This trail is rough in places, but one of the most rugged and beautiful areas on the district. Mountain climbers use it to access climbing Morning Star, Sperry, Vesper and Del Campo Peaks. The trail is covered with snow until midsummer.
From the upper portion of the trail experience views of the surrounding basin and valley. Rock cairns mark the trail in the upper basin.
Hikers should use caution just below Headlee Pass: This steep, narrow, rocky chute is notorious for falling rocks.
Starting at the northern boundaries of the forest, take a drive on the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway (State Route 542). This paved road starts at the Interstate 5 interchange in Bellingham, Wash., winds along the scenic North Fork Nooksack River, and climbs to an elevation of 5,140 feet to its well-named destination, Artist Point. This area is legendary for its spectacular views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan. Stop by the Glacier Public Service Center just east of Glacier at milepost 34 to learn about current forest road and trail conditions.
Mt. Baker - A State Scenic Highway and National Forest Scenic Byway
State Route 542 is a Washington State Scenic Highway and a National Forest Scenic Byway. The forest byway begins just east of the town of Glacier as the route enters the national forest, leading travelers to historic Heather Meadows, home of the Mt. Baker Ski Area. Forest roads lead off the main highway into the heart of the national forest with trails accessing the Mt. Baker Wilderness and North Cascades National Park backcountry..
Four Seasons of Recreation
During summer months, Mt. Baker's 10,781 foot snow-covered peak rises above the landscape. On a clear day, several vantage points offer spectacular views of neighboring Mt. Shuksan and surrounding slopes of the Cascade Mountain range. Hikers can head out on more than 200 miles of trails and campers can enjoy long evenings in rustic settings. The fall months bring cooler temperatures and lower snow levels, limiting hiking access to the high country. Several side roads are groomed, turning them into a winter playland for snowmobiles and cross-country skiers. During winter months the Mt. Baker Ski Area operates in Heather Meadows at the end of the byway. .
Heather and huckleberry meadows dotting the Heather Meadows landscape near the eastern end of the Mount Baker Scenic Byway, (State Route 542). Glistening lakes nestle between knolls. Ridges bristle with 900-year-old mountain hemlock. Lava flows from Mount Baker have resisted glacial carving and columns of basalt stand like black anvils against the sky. During the summer months enjoy a picnic, stroll the trails and stop by the Heather Meadows Visitor Center for a historical perspective of the area’s rich heritage..
The Church Mountain Trail climbs through forest to sub-alpine meadows and a former lookout site. Its southern exposure makes it is one of the first trails in the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway area to melt out for a good early-season hike. Begin hiking at an old logging unit, a good place to see lupine and columbine in early summer, then enter mature forest and climb steeply up numerous switchbacks. Look for calypso orchid along the side of the trail. After three miles of hard climbing, enter green meadows and continue up to the old lookout site on a rocky peak, elevation 6,000 ft. Visitors who come soon after the snow melts, usually early July, may see the meadows carpeted with glacier lilies. At the summit enjoy views of Mt. Baker and Canadian Border Peaks, among others. Use a camp stove if you camp out instead of building a fire. Camp on existing sites and try to limit your impact on fragile vegetation.
From the trailhead begin at an old clear-cut, then quickly enter mature forest. Encounter a junction in 0.7 miles. The left fork is Canyon Ridge Trail #689, which connects to Boundary Way Trail #688. Take the right fork to reach Damfino Lakes in 0.1 mile. Tiny lakes are skirted by a puncheon bridge walkway and surrounded by blueberry bushes that turn a blazing scarlet in autumn. Stop and look for young salamanders in the shallows. From here, the trail re-enters forest and climbs uphill for about 1.5 miles, breaking out into an expansive meadow. Walk through extraordinary wildflowers in July and August or wonderful fall color in September and October. Bearpaw Mountain is the prominent peak to the west. At Excelsior Pass, reach the junction with High Divide Trail #630, which enters the Mt. Baker Wilderness and travels along Excelsior Ridge (High Divide) for 4.5 miles east to Welcome Pass, or drops from Excelsior Pass south to meet the Mt. Baker Highway 542 in 4.5 miles. Enjoy views from Excelsior Pass of Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan and the Canadian Border Peaks.
There are a few areas for camping near Damfino Lakes, but the area is also popular with biting insects. When camping in the high country, the best water supply is a spring located about a half mile before reaching Excelsior Pass. There are campsites near this spring. Other water sources are limited to snow fields and small tarns that can disappear in late summer. Campsites with nice views are located on the ridge that runs south from Excelsior Peak. Camping areas can also be found along High Divide. Please camp on snow, rock or bare ground.
The south-facing Goat Mountain Trail is one of the first in the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway area to melt, making it a good early summer hike with beautiful flowering meadows. Start by switch-backing steadily up through the forest, catching peek-a-boo looks at the views. At approximately two miles the trail enters the Mt. Baker Wilderness. The maintained trail ends at approximately 5,400' on the shoulder of Goat Mountain. On a clear day, take in panoramic views of icy Price Lake at the base of Price Glacier on Mt. Shuksan. A steep scramble, recommended for experienced hikers only, one mile up to 1,500 feet of elevation leads to the top of Goat Mountain and even more far-reaching views.
Start out in second growth forest, which quickly opens to grand views of the Ruth Creek Valley within Mt. Baker Wilderness. The trail grade is fairly level for the first mile and then begins a gentle climb for the next 2.5 miles. In early summer see numerous waterfalls and the occasional avalanche cascade down the steep cliffs of the Mt. Sefrit and the Nooksack Ridge to the south. The white dome of Ruth Mountain appears after the first mile. Open views are almost continuous as the trail only briefly enters small patches of forest. Approximately a half mile below the pass is the turnoff to the right for the Hannegan Camp. To continue to the pass, stay left, as the trail steeply switchbacks through sub-alpine forest.
At Hannegan Pass, encounter a signed junction with Hannegan Peak Trail #674.1, which gains 1,200 feet in one mile to the summit of Hannegan Peak. To the east is an unmaintained mountaineering route leading to Ruth Mountain and Icy Peak. One mile north of Hannegan Pass the trail enters the North Cascades National Park. This is the first leg of the very popular Copper Ridge loop. The trail also accesses Whatcom Pass, Easy Ridge, an extended trip across the North Cascades Picket Range to Ross Lake Reservoir, and other less traveled locations in the North Cascades National Park.
Four dispersed campsites with fire rings and picnic tables and a day-use shelter are located at the trailhead.
Heather and huckleberry meadows dot the majestic landscape at Heather Meadows near the eastern end of the Mount Baker Scenic Byway, Washington State Route 542.
Glistening lakes nestle between knolls. Ridges bristle with 900-year-old mountain hemlock. Even the rocks catch the eye. Lava flows from Mount Baker have resisted glacial carving and columns of andesite stand like black anvils against the sky.
Interpretive signs along the Picture Lake, Fire and Ice and Artist Ridge Trails enhance the story behind this spectacular scenery.
The historical Heather Meadows Visitor Center exhibits offer a glimpse into the area’s colorful cultural history.
The center and area trails are open during the summer season after accumulated winter snows melt out.
During winter months snow-covered slopes offer opportunities for skiing and snowboarding at the popular Mt. Baker Ski Area located in Heather Meadows. Snow-covered trails outside of the ski area boundaries are not maintained or controlled for avalanches.
Beginning at Austin Pass, the Lake Ann Trail enters the Mount Baker Wilderness as it switchbacks down into the headwaters of the Swift Creek Drainage. Bordered by Shuksan Arm to the north and Artist Ridge to the south, you will travel through meadows and wooded areas. Approximately 2.5 miles from the trailhead is a signed junction with Swift Creek Trail #607.
As you begin to climb out of the Swift Creek drainage through heather, talus slopes and subalpine forest, Mt. Baker comes into view. You will reach a saddle above Lake Ann. Dropping down toward the lake, you will encounter an unsigned junction. The left fork leads to the popular Fisher Chimneys route for climbers attempting to summit Mt. Shuksan. The right fork leads to lakeside campsites.
Lake Ann hikers are rewarded with up-close views of Mt. Shuksan and its Lower and Upper Curtis Glaciers. Listen for the thunderous roar that means a chunk of ice has broken off one of the glaciers and is tumbling down the rock face.
Picture Lake is the centerpiece of a strikingly beautiful landscape in the Heather Meadows area. The classic alpine vista of Mt. Shuksan mirrored in Picture Lake is one of the most photographed mountain scenes in North America. A backdrop of mountains, wildflowers and colorful plant foliage make this a beautiful, universally accessible family hike.
You will find interpretive sign panels and a viewing scope installed during the summer months on a paved viewpoint. A platform on the edge of the lake provides a resting spot.
This popular trail within Mt. Baker Wilderness leads you from dense old growth forest to flower filled avalanche chutes and over rocky moraines to the snowy alpine zone. The trail crosses Grouse Creek on a stout bridge and then enters dense forest, climbing steadily. The forest begins to thin as you climb higher and huckleberries are abundant along the trail. Just below the tree line is the former site of the Kulshan Cabin. Above the tree line the terrain is rocky with herbaceous vegetation and numerous streams. Mt. Baker looms above. About two miles from the trailhead you will find a trail junction. The right fork steeply climbs 1,000 feet in one mile to the Hogsback Camp at the base of the Coleman-Deming climbing route to Mt. Baker's 10,781 ft. summit. Staying left, the trail reaches the most difficult of the trail’s stream crossings. Hikers not wishing to ford this stream must use the climber’s route if they want views of the glacier. If you cross the creek you will continue east to a lateral moraine deposited by receding glaciers. From this overlook, the Coleman Glacier is an awesome sight, spilling down Mt. Baker's flanks into a jumble of ice. Look carefully down in the ice blocks (seracs), climbers are often seen practicing their ice climbing skills. Alert! Hikers should never venture onto a glacier without proper alpine climbing gear and experience.
You will encounter several stream crossings along the Heliotrope Ridge Trail. The depth of these streams fluctuates greatly depending upon various conditions such as snowmelt, recent rainfall and time of day. A stream that is easily forded in the morning can become a raging torrent by afternoon. Use extreme caution; poles are highly recommended.
The south facing Excelsior Pass trail section of the High Divide Trail is one of the first in the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway area to melt, making it a good early summer hike. From the Excelsior Pass trailhead the High Divide trail enters Mt. Baker Wilderness and switchbacks steadily up a forested slope, with evidence of old forest fires visible for the first two miles. In four miles you will break out above the timberline and into heavy brush. At 4.2 miles the trail reaches the meadows of Excelsior Pass, with outstanding views of Mt. Baker and the Nooksack Valley. Veering left at the junction of Excelsior Pass leads to Damfino Lakes Trail #625 (hiker only). Stay right at the junction to proceed along High Divide. The trail gradually gains elevation and reaches a junction about a fourth mile from Excelsior Pass. To the left ascend another fourth mile, 5,699 ft. elevation to Excelsior Peak, or stay right to reach a high point of 5,930 ft., approximately two miles from Excelsior Pass. From the 5,930 ft. high point the trail travels up and down 2.5 miles to Welcome Pass. At Welcome Pass turn south and descend steeply 2.5 miles to the Welcome Pass Trailhead.
Follow this primitive trail to the North Fork of the Nooksack River to its headwaters in a steep walled cirque at the base of Mt. Shuksan. The first challenge is at the trailhead: Ruth Creek has no bridge. Wade the creek, or cross on a log if one is available. Keep in mind that due to quickly rising water, a log that is crossable in the morning may be under water in the afternoon. In early summer Ruth Creek waters may be too high to wade. Once across the creek, follow the old roadbed for two miles to what was the original trailhead. Another mile through second growth will take you to the Mt. Baker Wilderness boundary, then you will wind through old growth forest for about a half mile and emerge on the bank of the North Fork of the Nooksack River at the end of this well-defined trail.
After crossing a tributary stream, the route continues by way of either gravel bars during periods of low water or bushwhacking through riparian vegetation alongside the river. The North Cascades National Park boundary is about a mile away. Past the park boundary, you can continue through fierce brush as far toward the cirque as your cross-country travel skills allow. The best time to hike the Nooksack Cirque Trail is in the fall. During cool weather the water levels are low, allowing easier travel on gravel bars. This trail receives limited maintenance.
This is one of the most popular hikes on the Mt. Baker Ranger District. From the trailhead you will climb steadily for two miles through forest into Mt. Baker Wilderness and lush, open, flower filled meadows with stellar views of glacier-draped Mt. Baker. The trail wanders along Skyline Divide for another 1.5 miles, offering views of rivers, forests and countless peaks. An unmaintained boot path, recommended for experienced hikers, continues on to follow Chowder Ridge. Flowers and biting insects are abundant in July and August. The bugs abate in September, and the foliage begins to change into fall hues. Carry drinking water, as there is none available along the trail except in early summer when enough snow remains to melt for water.
This trail is within Mt. Baker Wilderness. Gold Run Mining Company workers built this trail in the early 1900s. The trail begins with switchbacks taking you through an avalanche path thick with wildflowers in early summer, then enters timber and climbs until it breaks out to a flat bench in a meadow. The junction with Yellow Aster Butte Trail #686.1 is about 1.5 miles from the trailhead. Stay to the right at the junction and continue upward through the meadow to Gold Run Pass. The steep, pyramid shaped, reddish peak north of the pass is Mt. Larrabee. American and Canadian Border Peaks are also visible. From the pass, the trail quickly loses elevation, and a half mile below the pass reaches a meadow-covered bench known as Coyote Flats. The trail continues to the lake, which is a popular fishing spot. Camping is available near the lake. Avalanche debris and downed trees make the last half mile of the trail to the lakeshore and camps hard to follow.
Caution: The north side of Gold Run Pass is steep and exposed and can hold snow well into summer. Hikers will need an ice axe and experience traveling on snow to reach the lake before the snow melts.
Follow State Route 20 east and view one of the largest populations of bald eagles in the United States along the Skagit River. Five native salmon species and sea-going trout attract the eagles to the Skagit River. State Route 20 eventually travels into the heart of the neighboring North Cascades National Park.
Explore the Skagit Wild and Scenic River System
Segments of the Skagit, Sauk, Suiattle and Cascade Rivers make up the federally designated Skagit Wild & Scenic River System.
Launch your boat or if you aren’t an experienced river traveler, join one of the river outfitters who specialize in guided trips.
Enjoy camping at Rasar, Howard Miller Steelhead Park and Forest Service campgrounds along the Cascade, Sauk and Suiattle Rivers. Hike lowland trails beside the rivers, or climb high above the valleys on mountain trails, which offer sweeping views.
You may view abundant wildlife along the Skagit, including the largest wintering population of bald eagles in Washington State. Eagles arrive in the late fall and stay in the area through January to feed on salmon carcasses. Observe eagles from roadside view points along State Route 20 between the towns of Concrete and Marblemount.
The Slide Lake Trail is slightly more than one mile long, maintaining a gentle grade for its entire length, making it a pleasant, easy family hike. The trail enters Glacier Peak Wilderness and winds through dense old growth forest and huge boulder patches to Slide Lake at 3,100-feet elevation.
The lake was formed when a portion of the surrounding mountainside slid across the Otter Creek drainage to form a dam. Because of its low elevation, Slide Lake is one of the earliest mountain lakes to thaw, usually by early June.
Please camp in established sites. Slide Lake hosts a population of fish.
The Suiattle River Road is located northeast of Darrington and is a major route into the Glacier Peak Wilderness, accessing the Pacific Crest Trail and roughly 120 miles of hiking trails within the Suiattle River Watershed. The road provides scenic and pleasure driving and allows people to access areas to hunt, search for wild mushrooms, pick berries and gather other forest products. Tribal members use the road to reach areas and resources important for traditional cultural practices and exercise reserved Treaty rights.
This steep, minimally maintained trail takes you to a scenic lake popular for fishing and surrounded by a few campsites. The first half mile follow an old road and at about one mile enter old forest and the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Some parts of the trail are very difficult, steep and not clearly defined. The trail follows Tenas Creek on the right for the first two miles. Near the wilderness boundary the trail trends left and upslope away from the creek, eventually entering a large meadow with Tenas Creek below. Proceed north until crossing the rocky outfall of Boulder Lake and the headwaters of Tenas Creek. The outfall of Bolder Lake is often hidden in the steep boulder field. After crossing the creek, ascend steeply to the northeast until you are climbing a steep, rocky scramble. Once at the steeply walled lake find a few good campsites on the left where you cross the outflow of the lake again. Boulder Lake is in a fragile high-alpine environment dominated by snow nine months of the year. Plants and trees grow very slowly. Please take care to leave no trace and pack out what you bring in.
Enjoy a relatively gentle grade following Downey Creek into the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Several steep creek crossings can be challenging during high water. Big trees and occasional views of surrounding peaks are features of this route. Find camping spots at about mile 3 and at the end of the trail at Bachelor Creek, mile 6.6.
The Downey Creek trail is the southern end of the cross-country mountaineering route called the Ptarmigan Traverse.
Climb through old-growth timber the first mile before breaking out in to large meadows that give the mountain its name. By mid-summer these meadows are alive with every kind of flower imaginable, making it one of the loveliest trails in the North Cascades.
The trail enters the Glacier Peak Wilderness after one mile. After 2.5 miles, descend to a pair of small tarns (lakes). Find a backcountry toilet here. Please camp only at existing sites designated by fire-rings below the tarns. The last mile is very steep with switchbacks. Marmots live on these high grassy slopes and send out their alarm whistle, warning other marmots of your presence.
The lookout, built in 1933, is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. On a clear day, the view from the top is breathtaking. Views extend to the north past Mt. Baker into Canada, east across to Glacier Peak, south to a string of snowcapped giants and west to the Puget Sound.
Please take care of the mountain's fragile sub-alpine environment by staying on trails and camping in established sites.
The trail maintains a fairly level grade, following the river, winding in and out of stream gullies, passing through groves of old and young trees for approximately 6.5 miles to Canyon Creek, where several camp spots are available.
Approximately a half mile beyond Canyon Creek is the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail and the south crossing of Suiattle River. At this junction the trail becomes the Pacific Crest Trail north and continues toward Suiattle Pass. Follow the PCT/Suiattle Trail easterly from the junction for another three miles to the junction with the Miners Ridge Trail 785 on the left (north).
Traveling along Highway 2, enter the center of the forest along the Skykomish River, a rafting adventurers' dream.
Grab your skis! In just two hours you will be gliding down the slopes at Stevens Pass Ski Area. Check in at the Stevens Pass Historic District for an overview of the area's colorful railroad and mining past.
Hike through old growth trees, deer ferns, trillium, wood violets, bleeding hearts and salmon berries in season as you follow Barclay Creek to Barclay Lake at 2,422 feet elevation. Cedar boardwalks lead to a log bridge crossing the creek. Shortly after the bridge, arrive at the lake and take in an outstanding view of the north wall of Baring Mountain, dramatically rising 3,700 feet above the lake.
Quickly enter Wild Sky Wilderness climbing 37 switchbacks and gaining 2,700 feet in three miles to experience beautiful views of surrounding peaks from the ridge. Continue to climb, winding through grassy sub-alpine meadows until you reach the highest point at Virgin Lake, 4,600 feet elevation, on the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness boundary. The trail gets a little rough leaving Virgin Lake and begins a 500-foot steep descent in 0.5 miles to the southern shore of Blanca Lake.
Blanca Lake nestles in a basin surrounded by Monte Cristo, Kyes and Columbia peaks, fed by the Columbia Glacier on the northwest end. The glacier’s chilly, silt-filled melt-water creates the lake’s bright turquoise green color.
Explore lush moss-covered forest and vivid fall colors in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and access the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. The first five miles gradually ascends the valley following Deception Creek where you can find established campsites at the 2-, 3- and 5-mile marks.
Reach spur trail #1059.1 in 4.8 miles connecting to Tonga Ridge Trail 1058 and spur trail #1059.2 in another 2.5 miles, which connects to Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail 2000 for a route to Deception Lakes north of the junction. The remaining three miles continue south and climb through sub-alpine meadows to intersect with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail at Deception Pass.
Two trails that intersect at this point are Lake Clarice Trail 1066, leading to Lake Clarice and Marmot Lake in Skykomish Ranger District, and Deception Pass Trail 1376, leading to Little Hyas Lake and Hyas Lake in the Cle Elum Ranger District.
Enter Alpine Lakes Wilderness and hike through densely shaded forest to the Dorothy Lake outlet in approximately 1.5 miles. Follow the lake’s eastern edge for another two miles to the lake’s inlet. Climb over a steep ridge into the Snoqualmie Ranger District. Continue to Bear and Deer lakes, about one mile from the Dorothy Lake inlet. Dorothy Lake Trail ends 4.5 miles from the trailhead at Snoqualmie Lake and continues to Taylor River Road off the Interstate-90 corridor on Snoqualmie Lake Trail 1002.
Enjoy beautiful views of surrounding mountains, learn the history of the Wellington train disaster from interpretive signs and rest on comfortable trailside benches. Follow the abandoned Great Northern Railway with gentle grades and various hiking options at each trailhead to accommodate people of all abilities.
Enjoy beautiful views of surrounding mountains, learn the history of the Wellington train disaster from interpretive signs and rest on comfortable trailside benches. Follow the abandoned Great Northern Railway with gentle grades and various hiking options at each trailhead to accommodate people of all abilities..
Start in an abandoned logging and burn area and climb the ridge into timber. Stay on the middle of the ridge, climbing steadily for about a mile, where you enter Wild Sky Wilderness. The trail levels off along the ridge top near Sunrise Mountain, then descends and climbs to 5,400 feet to Scorpion Mountain amidst huckleberry meadows. For a side trip you can descend 400 feet for a half mile on a spur trail and enter Henry M. Jackson Wilderness to Joan Lake. On this hike enjoy fall color changes, when the huckleberry leaves turn a brilliant, vermillion red.
This challenging climb into the Necklace Valley rewards hearty hikers with cool alpine lakes named for precious gems that you can swim, fish or camp beside. The hike begins gently along the East Fork Foss River and enters Alpine Lakes Wilderness at 1.5 miles, traversing a beautiful, naturally-regenerated second growth forest that was logged by the railroads in the 1930s. The first five miles gain only 600 feet. Look for lowland forest wildflowers: trillium, calypso orchids and yellow violet. This pleasant stroll abruptly ends at the crossing of the East Fork Foss River at mile 5. Depending on the condition of the foot log and the amount of snowmelt in the river below, the crossing can be a little scary. Afterwards the hike becomes a steep, grueling climb, gaining 2,550 feet in 2.2 miles until you reach Jade Lake. Necklace Valley is a fragile sub-alpine valley with extensive meadows. Find campsites on the river at mile 5 and in Necklace Valley at Jade, Emerald, Ilswoot, Opal, Cloudy, Al, Locket and Jewel Lakes. At the camp there are still remnants of old mining equipment.
Protect the fragile meadows and vegetation by camping in sites already established. Campfires are prohibited in the Necklace Valley.
The first mile and a half of the Pacific Crest Trail National Scenic Trail built on the former Great Northern Railway grade is level. After that it is up and down for the next thirty miles as the PCT passes through the Skykomish District on its way to Dishpan Gap and the Darrington District before reaching the ultimate destination-Canada. The trail travels through old growth forests, meadows of wildflowers and over ridges with breath taking views that attract hikers from around the world.
The first 1.5 miles of the trail are level, following the original grade of the railway. Enter the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness and just a little over five miles from the trailhead you will see deep clear blue water of Lake Valhalla (4,838 feet), nestled under the dramatic Lichtenberg Mountain.
After 1.8 miles, the PCT reaches the first of many junctions, Smithbrook Trail 1590 at Union Gap. From there, head 2.2 miles to Lake Janus (4,146 feet). There is no reliable water source between Lake Janus and Grizzly Peak although you’ll enjoy refreshing views of Margret Lake, Glasses Lake and Heather Lake. Find two more junctions within the next mile past Wenatchee Pass, Top Lake Trail 1506 and Meadow Creek Trail 1057 at Pear Lake (4,809 feet). After that, it’s approximately 10.5 miles to the next lake on the PCT; Lake Sally Ann (5,479 feet).
Continue through Saddle Gap where the trail intersects West Cady Ridge Trail 1054 .7 miles below Benchmark Mountain. The trail drops to Pass Creek Trail 1053 junction in 1.6 miles, continues through Cady Pass and intersects Cady Creek Trail 1501 in 0.3 miles. Cady Pass crosses over from the west to the east side of the Cascade Crest.
Start hiking under power lines that quickly transition to a tree canopy and enter Alpine Lakes Wilderness. All along the trail catch glimpses of waterfalls ranging from two to six feet and clear pools. Begin switchbacking after 2.5 miles as the trail steepens up the side of the valley for about a mile, gaining close to 1,000 feet in elevation.
For a northbound connection to Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail 2000 to Trap Pass, take spur trail 1060.1 four miles from the Surprise Creek trailhead. Continue on the main trail past the intersection over the lip of the lake basin to Surprise Lake at 4,500 feet with several campsites. Lounge on rocks along the shoreline and enjoy the view. Continue south along the east side of Surprise Lake and end at the junction with Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail 2000 just north of Glacier Lake at 4,800 feet where you’ll find another several campsites.
Slowly climb this south-facing trail through second growth timber into open meadows of huckleberries. Views of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness are spectacular and the area is extremely popular for huckleberry seekers in late summer and early fall. The trail ends at Forest Service Road #6830, 10.8 miles from the #310 junction accessing Tonga Ridge Trailhead. For more hiking at this point, continue onto spur trail #1059.1 for 0.7 miles to Deception Creek Trail 1059.
Enter Alpine Lakes Wilderness and climb gently for 1.5 miles to Trout Lake, where the trail becomes increasingly difficult, gaining nearly 2,000 feet in two miles. No water is available on this section of the trail. Copper Lake sits among cliffs, meadows and talus slopes. Hike a mile to Little Heart Lake before climbing and descending for another 1.8 miles over a steep ridge to the end of the trail above Big Heart Lake at 4,700-feet elevation.