Hikes in Mount Baker
Known to the indigenous population of Puget Sound as ‘White Sentinel’, the towering volcano of Mount Baker has long been known for its snow. Indeed, this majestic peak, which looms over the border between the US and Canada, is best known as a winter sports destination, offering perfect powder for skiing and snowboarding. However, in the summer months, Mount Baker unveils itself in all its beauty, as an incredible place for hiking.
Hikes in this region are dominated by two iconic peaks, Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, both surrounded by pristine trails. Hiking in Mount Baker is a dream come true for all adventurers, with mountainside trails clad in lush forest and delicate wildflowers, glittering lakes that reflect the high peaks in their peaceful waters, and epic, creaking glaciers. Come in summer for the fabulous display of flowers and blueberries and the chance to hear the whistling marmots, or wait until the autumn, when the forests are ignited in a blaze of orange and red as the leaves turn.
The beautiful Mount Baker region is just waiting to be discovered, and is a spectacular destination for some truly epic hikes. What are you waiting for? Pull on your hiking boots and get out on the trail!
10 Stunning Hikes Around Mount Baker
The region around Mount Baker offers plenty of possibilities for fantastic hiking, from epic summits and challenging day hikes, to pleasant lakeside strolls. If you’re travelling with children, Mount Baker offers many easy, short hikes at low elevation, with lots of variety and interest to keep young hikers entertained! However, if you’re looking for a real challenge, this region is packed with iconic ridge walks and tall summits that will stretch the abilities of even experienced mountaineers. The breathtaking views from the Ptarmigan Ridge or the Skyline Trail will provide ample rewards for all of your efforts.
- Artist Ridge Hike: Get your cameras ready! This sweet, short hike will bring you to a fabulous viewpoint where you can see Mount Shuksan reflected in the waters of a peaceful mountain tarn. The path is paved almost all the way to the end, making this a very easy trail for those travelling with young children or people with limited mobility. Try to arrive for sunset when the mountains glow a deep red.
- Picture Lake Hike: The easy walk to Picture Lake is the ultimate family hike in Mount Baker. The paved loop around this picturesque lake is ideal if you’ve got a stroller or wheelchair, and you can enjoy the lovely view of Mount Shuksan reflected in the shimmering water. In the summer months, the trail will be lined with wild heather, blueberries and fireweed, making this one of the loveliest hikes in Mount Baker.
- Lake Ann Hike: If you’re looking for a relaxed day hike in Mount Baker, why not try this lovely route up to Lake Ann? You’ll pass through lush wildflower meadows and over rocky terrain, before emerging at the saddle just above Lake Ann. The views from here are remarkable, extending all the way to Mount Baker, Table Mountain, and Mount Shuksan.
- Ptarmigan Ridge Hike: Calling all adventurers! This hike along Ptarmigan Ridge is not for the faint of heart, but it’s one of the most breathtaking, challenging hikes in Mount Baker. With steep, rocky slopes, some steep ascents, and some route finding required, you’ll need to be a confident, fit hiker. However, the rewards are simply remarkable, with close-up views of Mount Baker itself.
- Chain Lakes Loop Hike: This classic hike in the Mount Baker region is perfect in summertime, when you’ll find the trail full of wildflowers and blueberries. With gorgeous mountain views, several stunning lakes, and wide alpine meadows, you’ll have everything you need for a wonderful day out. This is one of the best hikes in Mount Baker, and one of our favorite moderate-level treks.
- Skyline Divide Hike: This spectacular trail will take you along a rolling ridgeline with glorious views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. With fantastic displays of wildflowers in the summer months, and plenty of whistling marmots scampering over the rocks, this is Washington State at its very best. This hike can be easily extended for a fun backpacking trip in some truly gorgeous scenery.
- Yellow Aster Butte: This spectacular trail really has it all – stunning wildflowers, jaw-dropping views, peaceful mountain tarns and a 360-degree panorama at the summit. You’ll need to be fit, as this trail is somewhat challenging, but this is a really satisfying hike. Time your trip for autumn, when the forests explode in a glorious spectacle of color, and the trail is at its best.
- Heliotrope Ridge: The Heliotrope Ridge Trail rises up through the forest and over a couple of creeks, before rising above the tree line for some stunning views. The hike extends all the way up to the glacial moraine at the lower Coleman Icefall, part of the larger Coleman Glacier. Towering above it all, you’ll see Mount Baker, creating a stunning vista that’s a dream for budding photographers.
- Hannegan Pass and Peak Hike: This is a tough hike with a remarkable reward: an incredible panoramic view over the North Cascades, including Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, and Mount Ruth. The trail is incredibly varied, passing in and out of the forest, traversing mountain streams and opening up into wildflower meadows. With jaw-dropping views and a satisfying physical challenge, this is one of the best hikes in Mount Baker.
- Table Mountain Hike: This hike to the summit of Table Mountain may be steep, but it’s mercifully short, and the rewards from the top are truly epic. You’ll have a 360-degree panorama over the region, with really wonderful views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. You’ll need a head for heights, but this is one of our favorite hikes in Mount Baker.
When Is The Best Time To Hike In Mount Baker?
Mount Baker is a legendary skiing destination, with incredible powder and plenty of good resorts. However, the best time to hike in Mount Baker is between June and September. Once the snows melt, this glorious region is perfect for hiking, with a carpet of wildflowers, lush forests, and plenty of beautiful trails. Avoid the busiest months of July and August and plan your trip for the shoulder seasons of early June and late September. You may risk a little snow on higher-elevation trails, but if you’re lucky with the weather, this is a wonderful time to explore the region, when there are fewer hikers on the trails and in the campgrounds. In particular, September is glorious, when the forests show off their autumn colors to full advantage.
Other Outdoor Activities In Mount Baker
Mount Baker is probably best known as a fantastic winter sports destination, and when the snows hit, it’s possible to go cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and sledding across the region. In summer, in addition to hiking and backpacking, you can enjoy a whole range of outdoor activities, from climbing and mountain biking, to fishing, hunting and wildlife watching. This is a brilliant region for camping and multi-day treks, with plenty of fun, family-friendly options on offer!
How To Plan A Trip To Mount Baker
If this has given you itchy feet, it’s time to put Mount Baker on your hiking bucket list! We’ve got all the information you’ll need to plan your trip to Mount Baker, from advice on accommodation to top tips on the best trails and activities in all seasons. We’ve done all the hard work so you don’t have to – just grab your gear and get out on the trail!
Best Hikes in Mount Baker
Winchester Mountain Trail
Winchester Mountain Trail is a 4.7 km out and back hike with great views of the Twin Lakes and surrounding mountains. For a scenic hike, it’s not too long or challenging. You’ll climb through continuous switchbacks to a lookout tower, which you can camp in on a first-come, first-served basis. Expect moderate traffic on this hike.
Tomyhoi Peak Hike
The Tomyhoi Peak hike is a great choice for experienced adventurers who want to try out a mountain that requires some technical work. This hike offers stunning views to the nearby Canadian border and beyond. It’s a hard trail with hands-on climbing required, making it unsuitable for newer hikers or those who are uncomfortable with exposure.
Dogs are permitted on this trail but won’t be able to make it up to the summit- unless they can nail a Class III scramble!
Excelsior Pass Trail
Excelsior Pass Trail is a beautiful hike with 360-degree views from the top. While it’s a bit of a leg-burner, it’s worth the work. This trail can easily be extended a few more steps to include the summit of Excelsior Peak, but the views from the pass will feel quite rewarding on their own. Bring poles and prepare for a lot of switchbacks! Expect moderate-heavy traffic on this hike.
Blue Lake and Dock Butte Trail
Blue Lake and Dock Butte Trail is a 7.7 km trail in the Mount Baker Wilderness that leads you past a swimmable lake to a butte with a view over the surrounding landscape. This trail is a favourite in the late summer when huckleberries and blueberries take over the route. Expect moderate traffic on this hike. We don’t recommend trying this route in the wintertime due to heavy snow on the trail.
Ridley Creek Trail
Ridley Creek Trail is a 12.4 km out and back hike in the Mount Baker Wilderness. This trail is challenging for a few reasons, but it’s a fabulous adventure for strong hikers. You’ll need to work hard on steep ascents, make unstable creek crossings, and find your way over downed trees. The reward is that you’ll often get the views all to yourself.
North Fork Nooksack Trail
The North Fork Nooksack Trail is a 3.7 km hike that takes you along its namesake river along an easy, flat pathway. This is a nice way to explore the area if you’re using the nearby Shuksan Picnic Area. This hike is great for all ages and skill levels and can also be used for snowshoeing in the wintertime.
Huntoon Point via Artist Point Trail
The trip to Huntoon Point via Artists Point Trail in the Mount Baker Wilderness. This hike is 1.8 km long and rated as easy, making it a good pick for beginner hikers, families, or those seeking a more laid-back experience. You’ll have great views of Mount Herman, Mazama Dome, Table Mountain, and the numerous lakes that dot the area. Expect moderate traffic on this hike.
Shannon Ridge Trail
Shannon Ridge Trail is a fun, challenging hike that leads you through the forest to a viewpoint over Baker Lake and the surrounding Mountains. It’s a fun but tiring trek, with lots of roots to avoid and a solid climb required. You won’t need to share the trail with too many other people on this hike! Poles and good boots are recommended.
Welcome Pass via High Divide Trail
The hike to Welcome Pass from Damfino Lakes takes you through Excelsior Pass for excellent views of the surrounding mountains and lakes too numerous to count. This 22.5 km hike is rated as hard, with a solid dose of elevation gain and a hefty amount of mileage. It’s very doable in a day for strong hikers, but it can also be used for backpacking if you’d prefer to split it up over a couple of days.
Rainbow Ridge Hike
The Rainbow Ridge hike is a gorgeous 8.0 km adventure in the North Cascades that takes you along a ridge with great views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, Canada, and beyond. In terms of difficulty, this hike sits on the harder end of moderate, making it an ideal trip for strong beginners and intermediate hikers. You’ll need a fairly capable vehicle to get to the trailhead.
Welcome Pass Hike
The hike to Welcome Pass on High Divide Trail offers fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and lakes too numerous to count. This hike is rated as hard, with a solid dose of elevation gain to pack in over its moderate mileage. This is the most direct way to reach Welcome Pass. Those who want to tack on a stop by Excelsior Pass on a longer approach can try the Welcome Pass via High Divide Trail.
Racehorse Falls Loop
The Racehorse Trail Loop is an easy hike to a pretty waterfall that cascades over several tiers. The hike to the waterfall is not very challenging at all, so hikers of all ages and skill levels can enjoy this trail. It’s fun to add onto other adventures in the area or use to stretch your legs when driving. While this route can be done as an out and back, the loop gives you a bit more room to explore. Expect light traffic on this route.
Twin Lakes Trail
Twin Lakes Trail is a 23.7 km hike in the Mount Baker Wilderness that leads you to two picturesque lakes tucked into the mountains. This is a challenging hike with plenty of climbing required, and the trail can be rocky. If you can persevere, you’ll enjoy a very quiet hike that ends with awesome views. Expect light traffic on this route.
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