Chain Lakes Loop

Mt Baker
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Chain Lakes Loop

Distance: 10.0km
Elevation: 550m
Time: 4-6h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.5 Overall Rating
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Chain Lakes Loop is a classic summertime hike near Mount Baker. This alpine circuit offers massive mountain and lake views, summer wildflowers, and blueberries to boot.

Getting there

From Glacier, drive 35.4km east on Mount Baker Highway to the parking lot signed for Austin Pass Picnic Area (Heather Meadows Visitor Center) between mileposts 55 and 56. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for this hike.

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About

When to do

Summer - Fall

Backcountry Campsites

Yes, at the Galena Chain Lakes

Toilets

Yes, at trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

High

Route Type

Circuit


Elevation


Detailed Description

Chain Lakes Loop can be accessed via three parking areas – the two most popular being Heather Meadows Visitor Center and Artist Point. Because the trail can be hiked in either direction, hikers are presented with plenty of options before setting out. We suggest starting at Heather Meadows Visitor Center and hiking the trail clockwise.

From Heather Meadows Visitor Center, walk 0.2km east along the road to the signed Wild Goose Trail. Head south along the trail, climbing the steep steps. As you climb you can admire the views of Mount Baker Highway, Bagley Lakes, and Mount Shuksan.

At 1.3km the trail crosses the highway before entering the Artist Point parking lot. Cross the parking area, picking up the trail again at the northwest corner of the parking lot.

The Chain Lakes Trail takes off west for a leisurely 1.6km from Artist Point. Cutting across a talus slope, the trail is rocky and completely exposed to the elements. Turn around for unobstructed views of Mount Shuksan. As you continue along, Mount Baker gets closer and closer.

At 3.4km, turn right at the signed intersection with Ptarmigan Ridge trail. The Chain Lakes trail climbs over Table Mountain’s shoulder. Excellent views of Mount Baker appear to the southwest. Reach the first of the Chain Lakes, Mazama Lake, at 4.5km. Then continue along to Iceberg Lake (named for the chunks of ice sometimes found floating in its waters). This is followed by Hayes Lake at 5.5km. Several side trails lead down to the lake’s shores, and backcountry camping is allowed in designated areas.

From Hayes Lake, begin climbing toward Herman’s Saddle. The trail gains about 183m of elevation here before topping out at 1646m. From the top of the saddle, look southwest to see Mount Baker over Iceberg Lake. To the east, Mount Shuksan rises high with Bagley Lakes shimmering far below.

Descend 335m to Bagley Lakes before crossing an old stone bridge and climbing the steps back to Heather Meadows Visitor Center.

Insider Hints

  • For an easier out-and-back hike, begin at Artist Point and follow the trail 3.9km to Hayes Lake. Turn around here for a 7.7km roundtrip hike with 229m of elevation gain (avoiding the climb up Wild Goose Trail and Herman’s Saddle).

  • Stop at North Fork Brewery on the way back to Bellingham for fresh pints and exceptional pizza.

  • You can also continue to the end of the road to begin your hike from Artist Point.

Comments

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HikingFly2 weeks ago

great mountain views and wilderness, perfect strenuous hike

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
RamblerJoe2 weeks ago

Really beautiful scenery; all those lakes are great spots for a relaxing snack.

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
6h 00m Time Taken
Otis3 weeks ago

Just breathtaking

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
5h 00m Time Taken
Gianna3 weeks ago

An excellent hike with very rewarding views. The lake is sooo beautiful it's just breathtaking! Lots of people but no wonder why, as the hike is not super hard and views are stunning

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
4h 00m Time Taken
4 Comments

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