Mount Baker is an icon of Washington State. It’s the third highest mountain in the state and has the most amount of snow and ice than any other mountain in the Cascades, apart from Mount Rainier. Fun activities exist at Mount Baker all year round, and is a great spot to impress your out of town visitors. We have your guide to exploring Mount Baker any time of year.
Getting to Mount Baker
The drive to this mountain is quite the trek from Seattle. It takes about 2.5 hours on a good at with clear roads. When snow is present during the colder times, it will take even longer. But the drive is definitely worth it as you’ll have some amazing views any time you decide to visit. You’ll take I-5 north for about 70 miles and take the Bow Hill Rd exit. You’ll then find highway 9 and head north until you see the Mt. Baker highway and take a right. This will lead you to all the fun places on Mount Baker. The road does wind quite a bit, so drive slow and pay attention as you go.
Mount Baker Ski Area
During the winter months (usually November to April), the number one activity on this mountain revolves around the ski resorts. 3,500 feet in elevation starts your base for the skiing area, with the peaks reaching over 5,000 feet high. The Mount Baker Ski Area has rentals, food vendors, and amazing slopes to check out. These slopes are pretty steep, so you’ll be able to get a lot of speed if you want. A lot recommend renting from town at the Glacier Ski Shop, conveniently located right on the route to the resort.
This resort is known to have a rain shower show up on occasion, so check the weather before you head all the way up. it would be horrible to make the drive just to snowboard in slush all day. An all day lift ticket for an adult puts you out $60, so don’t waste it.
The Mount Baker area is also full of some amazing snow shoeing areas. Hannegan Pass, Salmon Ridge, and White Slamon are some good destinations for exploring Mount Baker via snow shoe. For a more detailed description on where to go, check out this link.
Baker Hot Springs
If you’re looking for a nice and warm escape from reality, a visit to the Baker Hot Springs is great. You can find it at the Baker Hot Springs Trailhead in about a quarter mile walk. It’s not really a hike and easy to walk. The water isn’t too deep, but is perfect for sitting and relaxing in. You do have to deal with the sulfur smell, similar to rotten eggs, but you’ll get used to it. This can get a lot of usage, so please respect the area and clean up after yourself when exploring Mount Baker.
Hiking on Mount Baker Highway
When you follow the Mount Baker Highway long enough, it will eventually pass the Ski Area and lead you to some amazing options for all you hikers out there. There are trails available for all levels of fitness, so this area is perfect for everyone. Exploring Mount Baker wouldn’t be complete with out one of these hikes.
Picture Lake – .5 miles
This is the first trailhead you’ll come across on the left hand side of the road as it turns into a one way. Picture Lake has a beautiful reflection of the mountains on the water of the lake, and is surrounded by a short trail. It takes about 30 minutes to walk the entire lake, so this is a great stop for those who have limited mobility.
Bagley Lakes Loop – 2 Miles
The second trail you’ll come across after Picture Lake is the Bagley Lakes Loop Trail. The best of both worlds is given with this loop because you are able to see so much wilderness without too much effort. An hour will take you around the full loop. Weather really does affect this area, so keep an eye out. Snow still covers a lot of the trail in July, so you have to create some of your own trails if it’s not visible. September and October are usually the best times to visit without lots of snow cover.
Lake Ann – 8 Miles
More challenging than the first two trails, Lake Ann will have you hike just over 8 miles round trip. Lake Ann gives you beautiful views of Mount Shuksan. You’ll come across switchbacks, boulder fields, streams, and some stunning views. The trail is well worth the effort, as you do have to deal with a 2,000 feet elevation gain, so bring comfortable shoes. This is a great hike for those in shape. The best time to visit is the late summer, as the snow coverage lasts until August and can make the trail difficult to navigate.
Artist Point – 5 Miles
Last stop on your journey along the Mount Baker Highway is Artist Point. It’s great for snow shoeing during the winter, and hiking in the summer. The other trails have some pretty amazing views, but this one might just be the best out of all of them. There is some steepness to it, so be prepared to work up a sweat. This is perfect for a good hike with a picnic lunch after.
Exploring Mount Baker is an incredible idea for any type of person, whether you like the snow or the sun. Let us know where your favorite place near Mount Baker is in the comments below! Check out our post on the best kayaking spots in the Pacific Northwest.