Chain Lakes Loop Trail
[Mt Baker, Sep 4, 2022]
Chain Lakes Loop trail has it all – gorgeous views of Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan as well as a few beautiful alpine lakes along the way. The biggest challenge with it was picking a starting point and direction. Many people start this hike at Artist Point, which was where I started both Huntoon Point and Ptarmigan Ridge from. After reading a ton of Alltrails reviews, I decided to start this loop from the Heather Meadows visitor center and go counter-clockwise.
Since the forecast called for rain later the morning I arrived at Heather Meadows just as the sun was rising. The fog from the day before was nowhere to be seen due to the high winds, but there were still quite a few clouds. They added to the softness of the morning golden hour light.
The trail began with Bagley Lake and an ascent along Herman Saddle . Table Mountain sat on my left, half-obscured by clouds.
I kept looking back towards 9,000 ft Mt Shuksan, which kept disappearing in the ever-changing cloud cover.
Cresting Herman Saddle brought me to the high point of the hike at around 5,400 feet. Views extended in every direction. 10,781 foot Mount Baker started peeking as I got close to the top and would remain in my view for most of the rest of the loop.
As I dropped down the other side of Herman Saddle, Iceberg Lake came into view.
I rounded a corner and the most gorgeous rainbow was sitting just to the right of Mt Baker. What an unexpected treat!
I passed Hayes Lake and Mazama Lake, both popular with campers. I saw quite a few tents!
Now it was time to climb out of the lake basin. This wasn’t a strenuous a climb as in the beginning, and the view across the valley kept me occupied. I could see Mt Baker here and there as the clouds parted.
I finally finished climbing out and came to the junction with Ptarmigan Ridge trail. This portion looping back to Artist point was the same as yesterday. However, it was not shrouded in fog this time and I got some fantastic photos of Mt Shuksan.
I crossed the Artist Point parking lot and began the steep descent back towards Heather Meadows. I had a birds’ eye view of Bagley Lakes in front. To my left, I could see Table Mountain and the beginning of my trail cutting across the hillside. What a fantastic view to end the hike with!
I had a very chill rest of the day, as I was back in my AirBnB before noon and had no other plans. I returned to Michoacana for their cow tongue tacos. Later in the evening, my AirBnB host invited me to join her Labor Day dinner with her husband and friends, and I had a great time hanging out with them. It was nice to have some company after a few solitary days. Between that and the two gorgeous hikes over the weekend, my heart was overflowing with happiness and content.