Mount Baker is located in the Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and encompasses the Mt.Baker Wilderness Area and the Mt. Baker National Recreation area. The latter area is located on the southern side of Mt.Baker (Easton Glacier), and is open to snowmobilers when the snow depth at the trailhead is over 2ft.
Northern side of Mt.Baker
Take Hwy 1 East, and take the Abbotsford - Sumas border crossing (border webcam). Follow the WA-547 and WA-542 (Mt.Baker Hwy) to Glacier. Turn right on Glacier Creek Rd (NF-39) to get to the Heliotrope Ridge Trailhead (about 2hr drive from Vancouver). Continue along the WA-542 to get to the Mt. Baker ski area for approaches to Ptarmigan Ridge, Table Mnt, as well as the north and west side of Mt. Shuksan (North face, Salmon glacier, Fisher Chimneys).
Southern side of Mt.Baker
Take Hwy 99 South, and take either the Peace Arch crossing (webcam) or Pacific Highway crossing (commercial/truck crossing; webcam). If you suspect that the waiting times are going to be high, it could make sense to drive all the way to the Aldergrove border crossing (webcam). From the Peace Arch or Pacific Highway crossing, follow the Interstate 5. Before Burlington, take the WA-20 to Sedro-Woolley and Concrete. Before Concrete, turn left on the Baker Lake Rd (NF-11). To get to the South side of Mt. Baker (Easton Glacier), turn left on the Loomis-Nooksack Rd (NF-12) and continue along Schreibers Meadow Rd (NF-13) to the trailhead (about 3hr drive from Vancouver). Continue along the Baker Lake Rd for other approaches to Mt.Baker (Boulder Glacier) and south side of Mt. Shuksan (Sulphide Glacier).
Border crossing and other red tape
Do not forget your passport (you are going into the USA), and beware that you are not allowed to bring items like fruit and meat into the USA. Keep this in mind if you're planning to pack a lunch. If you TELL them you have a packed lunch the border patrol will take it and enjoy it! (Legally, don't bring a lunch, not-so-legally don't mention you have a packed lunch!).
Each vehicle parked at the trailhead requires a Northwest Forest Pass ($5/day). Make a quick stop at the Visitors Center in Glacier or Sedro-Woolley (opening hours are variable, check here) to get such a pass. Bring some US$ or a VISA card (very few places in the USA take debit) to purchase the Northwest Forest Pass. Alternatively, you can buy a day pass online on this website.
For a detailed list of the hiking trails and their current condition see: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Website
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has many different hiking areas through out the park including Heather Meadows and North Fork Nooksack which provide beautiful views of Mount Baker. Other popular hiking trails, that are also often used by climbers are the Heliotrope Ridge trail , Ptarmigan Ridge trail, Railroad grade trail, etc.
Note that while some trails have access to fresh water, lots don't. Bring plenty of water and/or a filtration device.
Mount Baker offers many designated camping spots which vary from first come, first serve to needing reservations. Dispersed campsites (non-designated campsites) are allowed, and free, as long as they are not within a 1/4 mile of the trailhead. No pass is required although maximum stay is 14 days per one month period. Contact the Forest Services to get up-to-date campfire restrictions.
There are many routes to reach the summit of Mount Baker. On the north side of the mountain, the easiest and most popular route is the Coleman-Demming Route approached from the Heliotrope ridge trail. The North Ridge is also climbed regularly using the same approach. Mount Baker can also be climbed starting from the Mt. Baker ski area via the Ptarmigan Ridge trail, however this approach is much longer than from Heliotrope Ridge.
On the south side of the mountain, the Easton Glacier is a popular route. However, this is a much longer drive from Vancouver than the Coleman-Demming.
For details on each approach, route, and descent, see Jan Taug's website
|The route and terrain described here is capable of producing avalanches. Safe travel requires the skills and equipment to assess and mitigate avalanche hazards. A professionally taught training course is highly recommended.|
Mid winter, most backcountry skiing takes place near the downhill ski area (Shuksan Arm). Table Mountain is a short tour, and the Coleman Pinnacle makes a good longer day trip.
In spring, once the Glacier Creek road (NF-39) melts out, Mt. Baker can be climbed and descended on skis in one long day via the Coleman-Deming route. As an alternative to the Heliotrope Ridge trail, skiers often take a shorter, more direct, route to Heliotrope ridge (see google map below). This route starts just behind a small cabin, about 50 meters further along the road from the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead. From this cabin, make an ascending traverse (stay on the West side of Grouse Creek) for about 10 minutes. This will lead you through pleasant forest, crossing a small tributary of Grouse Creek (on USGS map), to the base of a large avalanche path along Grouse Creek. Follow the creek until a gully (open slopes up to ~35 degrees) branches off to the southeast around 4700ft. Go up the gully until on the Heliotrope (North) Ridge, and contour onto the Coleman Glacier to reach the tent city (~7000ft).
For details on each approach, route and descent, see Amar Andalkar's Ski Mountaineering and Climbing Site
Download KML file with all coordinates.