Yellow Aster Butte Trail
The Yellow Aster Butte trail has summer wildflowers, fall colors, twinkling tarns and 360-degree mountain views. All that adds up to Yellow Aster Butte being an undeniably spectacular trail in the Mount Baker wilderness in the North Cascades region of Washington.
From the town of Glacier, drive east for 20.9km urn left at Twin Lakes Rd. Follow Twin Lakes Rd for 7.2km to the signed trailhead. A Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Interagency Pass is required. Some local passes are also accepted. Click here for more information about fees and passes.
|When to do|
July to October
Yes, at tarns west of Yellow Aster Butte
Yes, at trailhead
Out and back
Yellow Aster Butte Trail
Yellow Aster Butte Trail Description
A challenging and rewarding ascent is what you’ll find at Yellow Aster Butte. Begin by securing a parking spot along the road (there is no actual parking lot), then find the signed trailhead and restroom.
The trail begins climbing immediately through the forest, gaining 274m in the first 1.6km. At 2.6km, stay left at the signed junction.
Views open up as the Yellow Aster Butte trail transforms to meadows. The path arcs north, then west, then southwest, following a relatively flat contour for the next 1.3km. At 3.7km the trail drops into a bowl, where a permanent snowfield melts under the sun creating a series of braided streams. This is a nice spot for a break before continuing the climb.
After crossing the streams, continue gaining elevation to an unsigned junction at 5.3km. Turn right (east) to make your way up Yellow Aster Butte. The path to the left drops down to a picturesque collection of tarns before eventually climbing to Tomyhoi Peak. The tarns are a popular camping area. Camping is only allowed on snow, rock, or the bare ground, as the meadows here are very fragile.
The final push to the summit of Yellow Aster Butte gains 122m in 0.4km. This is by far the steepest section of the trail, but it’s well worth the effort. At the top, victorious hikers are rewarded with views north to Canada, the border peaks, and rusty Mount Larrabee. Winchester Mountain rises to the east – bring binoculars to spot its lookout tower. Turn to the southeast to see Goat Mountain, Mount Shuksan and Price Lake. Mount Baker rises coolly to the southwest. Finally, Tomyhoi Peak completes the panorama. Once you’ve had your fill, return the way you came.
Hiking Trail Highlights
Yellow Aster Butte
Yellow Aster Butte is a scenic triple-summit peak just west of the Twin Lakes and Winchester Mountain, near Mount Baker.
While it is not the most technical climb, Yellow Aster Butte is quite a challenging hike but it is also very rewarding. After you reach the summits, you will be amazed by some of the most spectacular views in the region, including Mount Baker, the Pickets, Mount Shuksan, Mount Larabee, Canadian Border Peak, American Border Peak, the Tomyhoi Peak, and even the beautiful Church Mountain further away to the west.
The Yellow Aster Butte trail is especially in the autumn as the trees change to bright colors and the forest is full of wildlife scavenging for berries. The trail is also less crowded in the fall. Spring and early summer is also a great time of year to hike this trail as the wildflowers along the trail are a wonder to behold.
The weather in this area is best between June and September. Be sure to check the weather forecast before hitting the trail. Thick cloud cover not only spoils the incredible views, it also reduces visibility. Wet rocks and steep descents can pose a safety hazard, so avoid this trail in bad weather.
Trekking poles are encouraged here, especially for the descent.
For another nearby adventure, follow the rough Twin Lakes Road up to Twin Lakes (high clearance and 4WD suggested). Then hike the trail to Winchester Mountain Lookout.
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