My name is Shirin and I am an Iranian American living in the Pacific Northwest. Welcome to my journal where I share my travels throughout the PNW and beyond!
You will find travel itineraries, PNW bucket list hikes, and PNW weekend getaways, road trip ideas, and more! My aim is provide travel options for the working professional living in the Pacific Northwest to take advantage of your free time and get out in this big wide world!
July 24, 2022
Mount Baker is undoubtedly my FAVORITE places to adventure, hike or sight see within the Pacific Northwest. Some of the best hikes near Mr. Baker will make you feel like you have traveled to the Swiss Alps or Patagonia and leave you in awe. Moreover, even if you cannot hike, there are plenty of accessible viewpoints within Mt. Baker area. I have noted a few of those in my blog “Accessible Washington Viewpoints” which you can read here for more information! Hwy 542 leading to some of the best hikes near Mt. Baker is such a scenic route which allows you to soak in the views of Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker and other rugged peaks, all from the road or Mt. Baker parking lot!
First, Mount Baker hikes are often accessible year round, however, research your trail before you go! Secondly, I always suggest these popular hikes on a weekday so you can try and miss the weekend crowd and have the trail a little less crowded. Third, this area of the Pacific Northwest feels like I am hiking in the Dolomites or the Swiss Alps so come with your camera and downloaded maps. During the September/October months you will see autumn larches and fall foliage, so definitely not to miss! If you have the knowledge and resources, some of these hikes are additionally open during winter, but you will need a 4×4 vehicle, snow gear and knowledge on the trail before heading out.
Finally, here are some of the best hikes near Mt. Baker that you should add to your list!
– Chain Lakes Loop
Hiking Distance: 6.5 miles | Elevation: 1820 ft | Rating: Moderate
Chain Lakes Loop is a class Pacific Northwest hike. You will see endless views of the North Cascades, grassy meadows, and alpine lacks to swim in along the way! You can choose to hike clockwise or counterclockwise, both would be great. Going clockwise will give you a little climb in the beginning to get your blood pumping.
– Lake Ann
Hiking Distance: 8.2 miles | Elevation: 2150 ft | Rating: Moderate
This hike will lead you to a spectacular lake in a rocky basin. There are campsites available at the lake as well if you want to make it into an overnight trip. Hiking to Lower Curtiss Glacier and overnight camp at Lake Ann is stunning with beautiful mountain views, and will not be a regret!
– Heather – Maple Pass Loop followed by Blue Lake
Hiking Distance: 7.2 miles | Elevation: 2000 ft | Rating: Moderate
Hands down, one of my top 5 favorite hikes within Washington and most picturesque. You literally feel like you can summit every peak and feel out of this world! The jagged rocks and panoramic views will want you to achieve more and become a mountaineer or climber! In the fall time, you can see colorful larches! Many people do this hike as a loop or go to the peak of the ridge and down back the same way.
– Yellow Aster Butte
Hiking Distance: 7.5 miles | Elevation: 2550 ft | Rating: Moderate
This hike is best completed in the fall time, where autumn larches are at an all-time high. My suggested month would be October, but really any time of the year (other than Winter) would be a great time! The gravel path to the trailhead is not for the faint of heart. You will need an experienced driver to drive the trailhead as the road can be narrow with little pull out sections for cars returning.
– Winchester Mountain
Hiking Distance: 3.4 miles | Elevation: 1300 ft | Rating: Moderate-Challenging
First and most importantly, this hike is NOT recommended for anyone without a 4×4 high clearance vehicle. The alternative would be to park in the Yellow Aster Butte Parking lot and walk the extra 3 miles up the trailhead. This hike/trail is the best bang for your buck as there is minimal hiking leading to the BEST view, the only downfall is the access to the trailhead.
– Ptarmigan Ridge
Hiking Distance: 9.0 miles | Elevation: 1800 ft | Rating: Moderate
This is an awesome hike because it is a two in one! You get to start the Artist Point parking lot, continue on the Chain Lakes Trail, and then one mile in veer towards the Ptarmigan Ridge trail! This hike has many ups and down and is a very rocky trail. Be prepared to step, trip and climb over rocks and wear appropriate shoes!
– Park Butte Lookout
Hiking Distance: 7.5 miles | Elevation: 2200 ft | Rating: Moderate
There are many fire lookout hikes within Washington state. Park Butte, however, is one of my favorites. This hike takes you to a unique lookout with panoramic views of the North Cascades. Importantly, right before getting to the lookout, you will need to climb a ladder, so be weary if you bring dogs!
– Artist Point
Hiking Distance: 4.0 miles | Elevation: 1000 ft | Rating: Easy-Moderate
This hike is absolutely spectacular no matter the season, however my favorite season for this hike is Winter! During Winter, you will need snowshoes and some basic avalanche precautions. The hike will be busy year-round as the other side of the road going up is the ski area. Many people backpack and snow camp this area. This hike takes off from the Mt. Baker Ski Area parking lot and you will hike along the ski area. At the top, you will see 360-degree views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. Importantly, the Highway is maintained year-round by the Washington State Department of Transportation, but if going during the wintertime, 4×4 or chains is a requirement.
– Heliotrope Ridge
Hiking Distance: 5.5 miles | Elevation: 1400 ft | Rating: Moderate
Firstly, the driving road to the trailhead is closed until January 2023. In the meantime, you are able to park before the cement blocks. Here, at the washout you can walk or bike to the trailhead, adding an extra 4.5 miles, each way. By bike, this will add about 1.5 hours there and 30 minutes back and is harder than the hike itself. You could also walk the road and make this trip an overnighter! The hike itself will lead you nose to nose to one of Baker’s beautiful glaciers, Coleman Glacier. You will see many established campsites along the way and foot traffic as this is often the climbing route for Baker. Depending on the season, you may pass multiple knee-deep creeks in which you should proceed with caution. Finally, to top off the day, on the way back stop by North Fork Brewery.
– Skyline Divide
Hiking Distance: 7.7 miles | Elevation: 2500 ft | Rating: Moderate
Currently, the road to the trailhead is washed out with an anticipated opening date of February 2023. You can ride your bike or hike the extra 3-4 miles down the trailhead. This is a great day hike or backpacking trip, if you fancy to see the night sky! There are limited water sources on the actual trailhead. Make sure to pack in all water and pack out all human waste. Not many suitable trees for hanging food, especially the further you go, so nice to bring a bear can. Finally, sunscreen is also advisable as the trail is exposed.
– Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm Trail
Hiking Distance: 12.0 miles | Elevation: 4000 ft | Rating: Moderate
This is your classic Washington hike! The best way to do this would be as a backpacking trip, however, you can do this as a day trip if you can’t find a permit. To find an overnight permit, you will need to research here. Begin by following the Cascade Pass trail. From Cascade Pass, the trail heads north (left when arriving at the pass) and switchbacks its way up a steep slope. You will see many peaks and glaciers on your way!
Hidden Lake Lookout
-This is a class Northwest trail as there are several distinct sections, ranging from green and lush wooded sections to mountain views to meadows and boulders! As you approach the boulder field it is hard to find the trail, but don’t give up as there is an actual trail! Once you get to the giant rock arrow on the ground, follow in that general direction. Look for the cairns on the right sitting on top of these boulders. If you’re paying attention to the cairns, there will eventually be ones that lead you over these smaller boulders and eventually a dirt path!
Photography, non-hiking areas to put on your list:
– Diablo Lake
– Picture Lake
The above list is just a few of the best hikes near Mt. Baker (but there are so much more!) I hope you enjoy these hikes as much as I did and continue your journey exploring the Pacific Northwest!
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