3 Perfect Days in Mt Baker
Often overshadowed by Washington‘s fantastic national parks, Mt Baker is a bit less known and visited. It sits only 10 miles south of the Canadian border at the end of Highway 542. It takes about 3 hours to get there from Seattle but only 1.5 hours from Burlinton, WA. This means you can easily add Mt Baker to this awesome 10-day WA national park itinerary, between North Cascades and Olympic national parks (days 2 and 3). I visited it as a standalone trip for Labor Day 2022 from Portland, OR – about a 5-hour drive without traffic.
Where to Stay
I stayed at an AirBnB in Deming, WA, which I highly recommend. From there, it’s 30-ish minutes to the top farthest trailhead, Artist Point.
When to Visit
Mt Baker is known as the snowiest mountain resort on Earth, and snow persists till late in summer. Plan your visit for August or September to have full access to trails. Late September and October bring fall colors. All of those months are in fire season though, which could impact air quality and your ability to hike. Check the Mt Baker Snoqualmie National Forest website for latest info and conditions.
Get your bearings at the Heather Meadows Visitor Center, but be sure to get there when it is open. Take a good look around as this will be the starting point for your day 3 hike, Chain Lakes Loop. Once you’ve gotten all the info you need, drive to the end of the road to Artist Point and take Artist Ridge trail to Huntoon Point. This little hike will introduce you to Mt Skuksan and Mt Baker as well as the altitude.
Day 2 – Ptarmigan Ridge
Enjoy every step of this almost-12-miler, which will get you as close as you can possibly get to Mt Baker without climbing it. The hike is exposed – no shade – so start early. Hiking poles are helpful for the rocky sections and any patches of snow that may still persist.
Day 3 – Chain Lakes Loop
This 7-miler will have you climbing Herman Saddle, dropping into the lakes basin and then climbing out again back to where this trail meets Ptarmigan Ridge.