To cool down in the summer we didn’t go to the Southern hemisphere. Instead, we flew a few hours to Seattle, then drove to beautiful Mt. Baker.
Beautiful Mount Baker in July. View from Artist Point.
True, we could have visited other places to see and even play in the snow. Mount Rainier still has snow around Paradise this time of the year. We stopped there on our first day of vacation in Washington. But as the girls talked about missing Mt. Baker area, we spent a few days there.
We were so close to Canada, our phones kept sending us “Welcome to Canada” messages. As much as we love our Northern neighbors, we didn’t cross the border this time.
Table of Contents
Driving the Mt. Baker Scenic Driveway
After stopping at Bellingham for provisions, we headed up to the mountain, on the Scenic Road, State Route 542. The road followed the Nooksack River to Glacier, a small town we spent many vacation days in. For a few years, we used to rent a home in Glacier, for a full week, using it as a base for our explorations.
We stopped at the only cafe in town, on a small side road and enjoyed a small break.
From Glacier, the road climbs abruptly to Heather Meadows and Artist Point. The weather was perfect, a clear and sunny day, giving us the perfect opportunity to see the snowcapped mountain. We thought of it as a rare opportunity since in years past I remember the place being clouded and too cold for enjoyment in summer clothes.
Another view of Mt. Baker
We walked in the snow, following the Artist Ridge Trail, enjoying a break from the heat of our own summer of over 100 degrees.
Walking the Ridge Trail in July
We had a beautiful view of Mt. Shuksan and the surrounding peaks, and on the other side way down in the valley, we even caught a glimpse of Baker Lake.
View from the trail
On our way down, we stopped in Heather Meadows. It was too early for the flowers, and the trails we remembered were still under snow. It won’t be until August that hikers could enjoy this area. I missed the spectacle of the heathers in bloom, but we still had a great time. Sitting in the shade of tall pine trees, visited by chipmunks and birds, we enjoyed a late picnic lunch.
Points of Interest – Places We Stopped Along the Way
Visitor Center – or Glacier Public Service Center
Before heading up the mountain road, we stopped at the Visitor Center for a few minutes. If you haven’t been there before, this is a great way to learn about Mt. Baker and vicinity. If you don’t have a National Parks Pass, you need to get a pass for the rest of the trip up, since the area is a National Forest.
You can ask the rangers for current conditions on the mountain, especially if you plan on hiking some of the trails. You can also pick up a map with all the trails here.
A short side trip from the road, we stopped at the Nooksack Falls. The trail is short and easy but lined with a fence. As we read, many people lost their lives trying to get a closer look at this dramatic waterfall. The short walk to the viewpoint offers a great view of the Falls.
My favorite trail in the Mt. Baker National Forest, we hiked it twice during the week. Though 3 miles long, the trail is easy, with not much of an elevation gain. Following the Nooksack River, we hiked through old-growth forest, stopping often to listen to the rushing river and the birds in the trees around us.
On the Horseshoe Bend Trail – The Nooksack River
Heather Meadows Area
One of the most spectacular areas in and around Mt. Baker, Heather Meadows is a popular and busy destination. Later in the season, it is filled with heathers, and a few trails take you past them. this time though, the snow was still too high, and we watched people skiing in the area. The Visitor Center has great views of the surrounding wilderness.
Heather Meadows in July
The end of the road, Artist Point deserves its name. You’ll find the most spectacular views of both Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, and the surrounding peaks, and valleys. You’ll be able to walk and play in the snow here year-round. This was the first time though that I saw clear skies and sunshine here.
View of Mt. Baker from the Artist Point
Artist Ridge Trail
The short, one-mile loop trail was under snow this time. We glimpsed a paved trail under the foot-high snow, so we know it’s there, but we didn’t need it. Walk through the snow and enjoy the spectacular views from the ridge.
On the Ridge Trail in July.
A Day Well Spent
Though still daylight, since the sun doesn’t set until 10 pm this time of the year, it was nighttime by the time we headed back to Bellingham for dinner and a room to sleep in.
By then we spent a perfect day on Mt. Baker, one of our favorite mountains in the Pacific Northwest. We returned on our last vacation day, to cool down before the desert heat hits us back home.
Emese Fromm is the editor and the main writer for Wanderer Writes. Some of her travel articles have been featured in publications like Matador Network, GoNomad, DesertUSA, MapQuest Travel, among others. She loves to travel the world with her family, trying to find the less-traveled path anywhere she goes (sometimes she succeeds).